'One of Dickens' most neglected, but most rewarding, novels' Peter Ackroyd
Charles Dickens's Barnaby Rudge is a vivid portrait of London's descent into anarchy, where 'King Mob' rules the streets, and innocent lives are swept up in the chaos. Set against the backdrop of the Gordon Riots of 1780, Barnaby Rudge is a story of mystery and suspense which begins with an unsolved double murder and goes on to involve conspiracy, blackmail, abduction and retribution. Through the course of the novel fathers and sons become opposed, apprentices plot against their masters and Protestants clash with Catholics on the streets. And, as London erupts into riot, Barnaby Rudge himself struggles to escape the curse of his own past. With its dramatic descriptions of public violence and private horror, its strange secrets and ghostly doublings, Barnaby Rudge is a powerful, disturbing blend of historical realism and Gothic melodrama. This edition is based on the one-volume publication of Barnaby Rudge, reproducing all the original illustrations by 'Phiz' and George Cattermole. Appendices include a map of London at the time of the Gordon Riots and the preface to the 1868 edition.
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Dickens, Charles/ Bowen, John (EDT)/ Spence, Gordon W. (CON)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Barnaby Rudge is an early Dickens novel, his first historical novel, of the Gordon riots of 1780, about fifty years before his time. The book is a mere 634 pages, that is, two thirds as long as Copperfield but a 100 pages longer than The Old Curiosity Shop. One of Dickens' strong points is atmosphere, and this novel is one of his best in that department. His description of the Maypole Inn and its proprietor, slow John, is marvelous. Much of the book describes the riots and their effect on various characters. Barnaby himself is an idiot, but such an excellent character for all that. The villians actually have good qualities in this book. And by the way, the Raven Grip is supposedly the model for Poe's raven. I would not start reading Dickens with Barnaby, but even though it's not as well known as ten other of his novels, I can highly recommend if you like other Dickens to give this book a read. I intend to reread it in my next round of Dickens rereading.
Dickens is one of my favourite authors, and I took up this book simply because I wanted to read all his books. "Barnaby Rudge", though is a little different than some of Dickens' other works. For one it's about a true historical happening. The riots of 1780 actually did occur. It's one of his shorter books, and it was written earlier on in his career. The book is really not where a reader should start with Dickens' books, but it should be read nonetheless. It still has the same great characterizations and atmosphere that we expect from Dickens, and it's still a good story. Barnaby is quite the character. We have to laugh at his antics, and Slow John at the Maypole Inn is absolutely wonderful. I read this book quite awhile ago, and while I'm writing this review, I'm thinking I need to reread it again. Wonderful atmosphere!
This is a well paced and fast-moving historical novel set during the anti-popery riots in London in 1780. Although not as grippingly exciting as Dicken's other historical novel, A Tale Of Two Cities, there is plenty of drama here to sustain the reader's interest. The fictional characters are well woven into the historical setting, and the portrayal of these characters gives the book some of its best comic moments, from the suave Edward Chester, to the vengeful Simon Tappertit, to the spiteful Miss Miggs, to the devious hangman, Dennis. The hero of the book is Gabriel Varden, whom Dickens repeatedly describes, rather clumsily, as "the honest locksmith". Varden has to suffer constant friction in his own household between himself, his wife, his apprentice and his maid, and this agitation reflects the agitation of the masses in the streets. One of the best features of the book is the way it successfully carries a number of plot lines. The main one of these...
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