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Nicholas Nickleby : Penguin Classics - Charles Dickens

Nicholas Nickleby

Penguin Classics

Paperback Published: June 1999
ISBN: 9780140435122
Number Of Pages: 864
For Ages: 18+ years old

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I shall never regret doing as I have – never, if I starve or beg in consequence.'

When Nicholas Nickleby is left penniless after his father's death, he appeals to his wealthy uncle to help him find work and to protect his mother and sister. But Ralph Nickleby proves both hard-hearted and unscrupulous, and Nicholas finds himself forced to make his own way in the world. His adventures gave Dickens the opportunity to portray a extraordinary gallery of rogues and eccentrics: Wackford Squeers, the tyrannical headmaster of Dotheboys Hall, a school for unwanted boys; the slow-witted orphan Smike, rescued by Nicholas; and the gloriously theatrical Mr and Mrs Crummle and their daughter, the 'infant phenomenon'.

Like many of Dickens's novels, Nicholas Nickleby is characterized by his outrage at cruelty and social injustice, but it is also a flamboyantly exuberant work, revealing his comic genius at its most unerring.

About the Author

Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist whose popularity was established by the phenomenally successful Pickwick Papers (1836-7). His novels captured and held the public imagination over a period of more than thirty years. David Trotter is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature and Head of Department at University College London. Charlotte Mitchell is Lecturer in English at University College London.

“There,” said the schoolmaster as they stepped in together; “this is our shop, Nickleby!”

It was such a crowded scene, and there were so many objects to attract attention, that, at first, Nicholas stared about him, really without seeing anything at all. By degrees, however, the place resolved itself into a bare and dirty room, with a couple of windows, whereof a tenth part might be of glass, the remainder being stopped up with old copy-books and paper. There were a couple of long old rickety desks, cut and notched, and inked, and damaged, in every possible way; two or three forms; a detached desk for Squeers; and another for his assistant. The ceiling was supported, like that of a barn, by cross-beams and rafters; and the walls were so stained and discoloured, that it was impossible to tell whether they had ever been touched with paint or whitewash.

But the pupils—the young noblemen! How the last faint traces of hope, the remotest glimmering of any good to be derived from his efforts in this den, faded from the mind of Nicholas as he looked in dismay around! Pale and haggard faces, lank and bony figures, children with the countenances of old men, deformities with irons upon their limbs, boys of stunted growth, and others whose long meagre legs would hardly bear their stooping bodies, all crowded on the view together; there were the bleared eye, the hare-lip, the crooked foot, and every ugliness or distortion that told of unnatural aversion conceived by parents for their offspring, or of young lives which, from the earliest dawn of infancy, had been one horrible endurance of cruelty and neglect. There were little faces which should have been handsome, darkened with the scowl of sullen, dogged suffering; there was childhood with the light of its eye quenched, its beauty gone, and its helplessness alone remaining; there were vicious-faced boys, brooding, with leaden eyes, like malefactors in a jail; and there were young creatures on whom the sins of their frail parents had descended, weeping even for the mercenary nurses they had known, and lonesome even in their loneliness. With every kindly sympathy and affection blasted in its birth, with every young and healthy feeling flogged and starved down, with every revengeful passion that can fester in swollen hearts, eating its evil way to their core in silence, what an incipient Hell was breeding here!

Charles Dickens - Nicholas Nickleby
Acknowledgementsp. v
Introductionp. xiii
A Chronology Of Charles Dickensp. xxxii
Preface (1839)p. xlix
Preface (1848)p. lii
Introduces All the Restp. 1
Of Mr. Ralph Nickleby, and His Establishment, and His Undertakings. and of a Great Joint Stock Company of Vast National Importancep. 6
Mr. Ralph Nickleby Receives Sad Tidings of His Brother, but Bears Up Nobly Against the Intelligence Communicated to Him. The Reader is Informed How He Liked Nicholas, Who is Herein Introduced And How Kindly He Proposed to Make His Fortune at Oncep. 18
Nicholas and His Uncle (to Secure the Fortune Without Loss of Time)Wait Upon Mr. Wackford Squeers, the Yorkshire Schoolmasterp. 29
Nicholas Starts for Yorkshire. of His Leave-Taking and His Fellow-Travellers, and What Befell Them on the Roadp. 42
In Which the Occurrence of the Accident Mentioned in the Last Chapter, Affords an Opportunity to a Couple of Gentlemen to Tell Stories Against Each Otherp. 53
Mr. and Mrs. Squeers at Homep. 76
Of the Internal Economy of Dotheboys Hallp. 85
Of Miss Squeers, Mrs. Squeers, Master Squeers, and Mr. Squeers And of Various Matters and Persons Connected No Less with The Squeerses Than with Nicholas Nicklebyp. 98
How Mr. Ralph Nickleby Provided for His Niece and Sister-In-Lawp. 114
Newman Noggs Inducts Mrs. and Miss Nickleby into Their New Dwelling in the Cityp. 128
Whereby the Reader Will Be Enabled to Trace the Further Course Of Miss Fanny Squeers's Love, and to Ascertain Whether It Ran Smooth Or Otherwisep. 134
Nicholas Varies the Monotony of Dotheboys Hall by a Most Vigorous and Remarkable Proceeding, Which Leads to Consequences Of Some Importancep. 146
Acquaints the Reader with the Cause and Origin of the Interruption Described in the Last Chapter, and with Some Other Matters Necessary to Be Knownp. 172
Nicholas Seeks to Employ Himself in a New Capacity, and Being Unsuccessful, Accepts an Engagement as Tutor in a Private Familyp. 185
Follows the Fortunes of Miss Nicklebyp. 205
Miss Knag, After Doating on Kate Nickleby for Three Whole Days Makes Up Her Mind to Hate Her for Evermore. the Causes Which Lead Miss Knag to Form This Resolutionp. 215
Descriptive of a Dinner at Mr. Ralph Nickleby's, and of The Manner in Which the Company Entertained Themselves, Before Dinner, at Dinner, and After Dinnerp. 229
Wherein Nicholas at Length Encounters His Uncle, to Whom He Expresses His Sentiments with Much Candour. His Resolutionp. 245
Madame Mantalini Finds Herself in a Situation of Some Difficulty And Miss Nickleby Finds Herself in No Situation at Allp. 257
Nicholas, Accompanied by Smike, Sallies Forth to Seek His Fortune He Encounters Mr. Vincent Crummles; and Who He Was, is Herein Made Manifestp. 270
Treats of the Company of Mr. Vincent Crummles, and of His Affairs, Domestic and Theatricalp. 286
Of the Great Bespeak for Miss Snevellicci, and the First Appearance Of Nicholas Upon Any Stagep. 300
Concerning a Young Lady from London, Who Joins the Company And an Elderly Admirer Who Follows in Her Train; with an Affecting Ceremony Consequent on Their Arrivalp. 317
Is Fraught with Some Danger to Miss Nickleby's Peace of Mindp. 331
Mrs. Nickleby Becomes Acquainted with Messrs. Pyke and Pluck Whose Affection and Interest Are Beyond All Boundsp. 342
Miss Nickleby, Rendered Desperate by the Persecution of Sir Mulberry Hawk, and the Complicated Difficulties and Distresses Which Surround Her, Appeals, as a Last Resource, to Her Uncle for Protectionp. 357
Of the Proceedings of Nicholas, and Certain Internal Divisions In The Company of Mr. Vincent Crummlesp. 374
Festivities Are Held in Honour of Nicholas, Who Suddenly Withdraws Himself from the Society of Mr. Vincent Crummles and His Theatrical Companionsp. 384
Of Ralph Nickleby and Newman Noggs, and Some Wise Precautions, the Success or Failure of Which Will Appear in the Sequelp. 400
Relating Chiefly to Some Remarkable Conversation, and Some Remarkable Proceedings to Which It Gives Risep. 408
In Which Mr. Ralph Nickleby is Relieved, by a Very Expeditious Process, from All Commerce with His Relationsp. 419
Wherein Mr. Ralph Nickleby is Visited by Persons with Whom The Reader Has Been Already Made Acquaintedp. 426
Smike Becomes Known to Mrs. Nickleby and Kate. Nicholas Also Meets with New Acquaintances. Brighter Days Seem to Dawn Upon The Familyp. 442
Private and Confidential; Relating to Family Matters. Showing How Mr. Kenwigs Underwent Violent Agitation, and How Mrs. Kenwigs Was as Well as Could Be Expectedp. 459
Nicholas Finds Further Favour in the Eyes of the Brothers Cheeryble And Mr. Timothy Linkinwater. the Brothers Give a Banquet On A Great Annual Occasion. Nicholas, on Returning Home from It Receives a Mysterious and Important Disclosure from the Lips Of Mrs. Nicklebyp. 468
Comprises Certain Particulars Arising Out of a Visit of Condolence, Which May Prove Important Hereafter. Smike Unexpectedly Encounters a Very Old Friend, Who Invites Him to His House, and Will Take No Denialp. 486
In Which Nicholas Falls in Love. He Employs a Mediator, Whose Proceedings Are Crowned with Unexpected Success, Excepting in One Solitary Particularp. 510
Containing Some Romantic Passages Between Mrs. Nickleby And The Gentleman in the Small-Clothes Next Doorp. 528
Illustrative of the Convivial Sentiment, That the Best of Friends Must Sometimes Partp. 541
Officiates as a Kind of Gentleman Usher, in Bringing Various People Togetherp. 553
Mr. Ralph Nickleby Cuts an Old Acquaintance. It Would Also Appear from the Contents Hereof, That a Joke, Even Between Husband And Wife, May Be Sometimes Carried Too Farp. 567
Containing Matter of a Surprising Kindp. 582
Throws Some Light Upon Nicholas's Love; but Whether for Good Or Evil, the Reader Must Determinep. 595
Mr. Ralph Nickleby Has Some Confidential Intercourse with Another Old Friend. They Concert Between Them a Project, Which Promises Well for Bothp. 609
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Vincent Crummles, and Positively His Last Appearance on This Stagep. 625
Chronicles the Further Proceedings of the Nickleby Family, and The Sequel of the Adventure of the Gentleman in the Small-Clothesp. 637
Involves a Serious Catastrophep. 653
The Project of Mr. Ralph Nickleby and His Friend, Approaching A Successful Issue, Becomes Unexpectedly Known to Another Party Not Admitted into Their Confidencep. 667
Nicholas Despairs of Rescuing Madeline Bray, but Plucks Up His Spirits Again, and Determines to Attempt It. Domestic Intelligence Of the Kenwigses and Lillyvicksp. 679
Containing the Further Progress of the Plot Contrived by Mr. Ralph Nickleby and Mr. Arthur Gridep. 692
The Crisis of the Project and Its Resultp. 709
Of Family Matters, Cares, Hopes, Disappointments, and Sorrowsp. 721
Ralph Nickleby, Baffled by His Nephew in His Late Design, Hatches A Scheme of Retaliation Which Accident Suggests to Him, and Takes Into His Counsels a Tried Auxiliaryp. 734
How Ralph Nickleby's Auxiliary Went About His Work, and How He Prospered with Itp. 747
In Which One Scene of This History is Closedp. 758
The Plots Begin to Fail, and Doubts and Dangers to Disturb The Plotterp. 764
The Dangers Thicken, and the Worst is Toldp. 779
Wherein Nicholas and His Sister Forfeit the Good Opinion of All Worldly and Prudent Peoplep. 791
Ralph Makes One Last Appointment--And Keeps Itp. 802
The Brothers Cheeryble Make Various Declarations for Themselves And Others. Tim Linkinwater Makes a Declaration for Himselfp. 808
An Old Acquaintance is Recognised Under Melancholy Circumstances And Dotheboys Hall Breaks Up for Everp. 819
Conclusionp. 829
The Nickleby 'Proclamation'p. 832
Running Headlines for the 1867 Editionp. 835
Explanatory Notesp. 844
Textual Notesp. 864
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780140435122
ISBN-10: 0140435123
Series: Penguin Classics
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 864
Published: June 1999
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 20.0 x 13.1  x 3.4
Weight (kg): 0.59
Edition Number: 1

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Charles Dickens

About the Author

One of the grand masters of Victorian literature

Charles Dickens was born at Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, the second of eight children. Dickens's childhood experiences were similar to those depicted in David Copperfield. His father, who was a government clerk, was imprisoned for debt and Dickens was briefly sent to work in a blacking warehouse at the age of twelve.

He received little formal education, but taught himself shorthand and became a reporter of parliamentary debates for the Morning Chronicle. He began to publish sketches in various periodicals, which were subsequently republished as Sketches by Boz. The Pickwick Papers were published in 1836–7 and after a slow start became a publishing phenomenon and Dickens's characters the centre of a popular cult.

Part of the secret of his success was the method of cheap serial publication which Dickens used for all his novels. He began Oliver Twist in 1837, followed by Nicholas Nickleby (1838) and The Old Curiosity Shop (1840–41).After finishing Barnaby Rudge (1841) Dickens set off for America; he went full of enthusiasm for the young republic but, in spite of a triumphant reception, he returned disillusioned. His experiences are recorded in American Notes (1842). Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–4) did not repeat its predecessors' success but this was quickly redressed by the huge popularity of the Christmas Books, of which the first, A Christmas Carol, appeared in 1843.

During 1844–6 Dickens travelled abroad and he began Dombey and Son while in Switzerland. This and David Copperfield (1849–50) were more serious in theme and more carefully planned than his early novels. In later works, such as Bleak House (1853) and Little Dorrit (1857), Dickens's social criticism became more radical and his comedy more savage.

In 1850 Dickens started the weekly periodical Household Words, succeeded in 1859 by All the Year Round; in these he published Hard Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1860–61). Dickens's health was failing during the 1860s and the physical strain of the public readings which he began in 1858 hastened his decline, although Our Mutual Friend (1865) retained some of his best comedy.

His last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, was never completed and he died on 9 June 1870. Public grief at his death was considerable and he was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.

A Note on our choice

The Works of Charles Dickens are available in many different editions, published by many different publishers.

The Booktopia Book Guru has recommended the Penguin Black Classic paperback editions here, as Australian readers have had a long established relationship with the Penguin Black Classic editions, with their informative and erudite introductions and notes.

There are, however, other options (see the series tab below). Both Oxford Classics and Vintage Classics publish Dickens, with notes and introductions. As do many US publishing houses.

Wordsworth Classics publish cheaper, no frills, editions of the classics, Dickens included, but the cheapest option, for those who have don’t want to read the classics but have to in order to pass a course, the US publisher, Dover, issues a thrift edition: these are cheap and cheerful, read and discard productions, which offer nothing but the text.

Visit Charles Dickens's Booktopia Author Page