The Pickwick Papers

  • by Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by Simon Prebble
  • 30 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (commonly known as The Pickwick Papers) is the first novel by Charles Dickens. The book became the first real publishing phenomenon, with bootleg copies, theatrical performances, Sam Weller joke books and other merchandise.
Written for publication as a serial, The Pickwick Papers is a sequence of loosely-related adventures. The novel's main character, Mr. Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, is a kind and wealthy old gentleman, and the founder and perpetual president of the Pickwick Club. To extend his researches into the quaint and curious phenomena of life, he suggests that he and three other "Pickwickians" (Mr. Nathaniel Winkle, Mr. Augustus Snodgrass, and Mr. Tracy Tupman) should make journeys to remote places from London and report on their findings to the members of the club. Their travels throughout the English countryside provide the chief theme of the novel.
Its main literary value and appeal is formed by its numerous memorable characters. Each character in The Pickwick Papers, as in many other Dickens novels, is drawn comically, often with exaggerated personalities. Alfred Jingle provides an aura of comic villainy. His misadventures repeatedly land the Pickwickians in trouble. These include Jingle's elopement with the spinster, Aunt Rachael of Dingley Dell manor, misadventures with Dr. Slammer, and others.

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What the Critics Say

This novel, Dickens's first, made him famous and was perhaps the world's first real publishing phenomenon, inspiring bootleg copies, theatrical performances, and merchandise based on the popular characters.
"[T]he great example of everything that made Dickens great....[a] supreme masterpiece." (G. K. Chesterton)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

My favorite Dickens Book Comes to Life

I would recommend this book to anyone, with one condition... Don't give up on it too soon. This book starts very slowly. It was Dickens first book I believe, and it starts out in a very stuffy formal mode. It purports to be a documentation of the activities of the "Pickwick" club (hence the name the Pickwick Papers). The story takes a while to get going, and I'm afraid many might not have the patience to see it through. Once it gets going, you don't ever want it to end. The narration is first rate as well. Sometimes you find yourself mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the writing of the author, and the magnificent reading of the narrator. It also contains some of the most endearing characters that Dickens ever created. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, its wonderful.
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- GERALD

Silly, Corny, Delightful 'Dickens Lite'

Everyone seems to have a different impression of Charles Dickens, depending on how many of his 15 novels they've read (or movie and/or BBC adaptations they've watched).

I decided to listen to all of his novels chronologically, and, technically this is his first.

I say technically because, although all of his novels were serialized, subsequent ones become much more cohesive--written more like chapters of a continuing story/ modern novel-- rather than individual episodes with familiar characters.
In other words, if you think of a sitcom vs. an HBO series, Pickwick Papers is a sitcom, both in structure and depth. Over the chapters, the adventures and situations vary, but the core cast is consistent, with "guest" characters coming in and out. And as sometimes happens, one introduced character (Sam Weller) clicks so well he becomes not only a regular cast member, but also a clear fan favorite.

As with any sitcom, a continuing plot (or lack thereof) isn't the point--it's all about the characters and setting, and-- although Dickens will become fairly proficient at plotting later in his career--characters and settings will always be his natural wheelhouse and earliest claim to fame.
And that's why his stuff is such a pleasure to listen to---it was meant to be read aloud, and Simon Prebble is a total pro. His accents and character differentiation are pitch-perfect.

For me, the biggest draw here is the detailed glimpse into mid-19th century English life, albeit a comically idealized one. (Milk punch, curling papers, meat pies, harrowing carriage accidents...)

Either you're really into this stuff our you aren't, but if you are, I highly recommend you supplement your listening by downloading the digitized original print version (with illustrations) from Google Books or iBooks (it's free/public domain) so you can see the illustrations that inspired the stories.

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- Sand

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-21-2009
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.