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LARGE PRINT edition of a must-read English classics. The adventurous story of a poor English boy's growth and development into respectable maturity as a successful, celebrated, rich writer. It is mostly autobiographical. CHAPTER 1. I AM BORN Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously. In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night. I need say nothing here, on the first head, because nothing can show better than my history whether that prediction was verified or falsified by the result. On the second branch of the question, I will only remark, that unless I ran through that part of my inheritance while I was still a baby, I have not come into it yet. But I do not at all complain of having been kept out of this property; and if anybody else should be in the present enjoyment of it, he is heartily welcome to keep it. I was born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going people were short of money about that time, or were short of faith and preferred cork jackets, I don't know; all I know is, that there was but one solitary bidding, and that was from an attorney connected with the bill-broking business, who offered two pounds in cash, and the balance in sherry, but declined to be guaranteed from drowning on any higher bargain. Consequently the advertisement was withdrawn at a dead loss for as to sherry, my poor dear mother's own sherry was in the market then and ten years afterwards, the caul was put up in a raffle down in our part of the country, to fifty members at half-a-crown a head, the winner to spend five shillings. I was present myself, and I remember to have felt quite uncomfortable and confused, at a part of myself being disposed of in that way. The caul was won, I recollect, by an old lady with a hand-basket, who, very reluctantly, produced from it the stipulated five shillings, all in halfpence, and twopence halfpenny short as it took an immense time and a great waste of arithmetic, to endeavour without any effect to prove to her. It is a fact which will be long remembered as remarkable down there, that she was never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at ninety-two. I have understood that it was, to the last, her proudest boast, that she never had been on the water in her life, except upon a bridge; and that over her tea (to which she was extremely partial) she, to the last, expressed her indignation at the impiety of mariners and others, who had the presumption to go 'meandering' about the world. It was in vain to represent to her that some conveniences, tea perhaps included, resulted from this objectionable practice. She always returned, with greater emphasis and with an instinctive knowledge of the strength of her objection, 'Let us have no meandering.' Not to meander myself, at present, I will go back to my birth. I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or 'there by', as they say in Scotland.
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" Like so many fond parents I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child," wrote Charles Dickens. "And his name is David Copperfield."
Of all of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield most closely reflects the events of his own life. The story of an abandoned waif who discovers life and love in an indifferent world, this classic tale of childhood is populated with a cast of eccentrics, innocents, and villains who number among the author's greatest creations.
"David Copperfield is filled with characters of the most astonishing variety, vividness, and originality," noted Somerset Maugham. "They are not realistic and yet they abound with life. There never were such people as the Micawbers, Pegotty and Barkis, Traddles, Betsey Trotwood and Mr. Dick, Uriah Heep and his mother. They are fantastic inventions of Dickens's exultant imagination, but they have so much vigor, they are so consistent, they are presented with so much conviction, that you believe in them. They are extravagant, but not unreal, and when you have once to know them you can never quite forget them." T. S. Eliot agreed: "Dickens excelled in character; in the creation of characters of greater intensity than human beings." And Virginia Woolf concluded: "In David Copperfield, though char-
acters swarm and life flows into every creek and cranny, some common feelings--youth, gaiety, hope--envelops the tumult, brings the scattered parts together, and invests the most perfect of all the Dickens novels with an atmosphere of beauty."
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