Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)

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9781906230012: Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)

An escaped convict threatens to eat young Pip’s heart for breakfast. The ghostly Miss Havisham invites Pip to her eerie home. A mysterious benefactor makes him suddenly wealthy. Pip’s life will never be the same again. Pride, humility, love, loyalty and shame compete for Pip’s emotions. Will his quest to become a gentleman enable him to melt the cold heart of the beautiful Estella, or will it destroy his happiness? Pip’s tale is full of mystery and surprises. What is the nature of Miss Havisham’s interest in him? Why does Estella want to break his heart? Why does the dangerous convict return? Most importantly, who has given Pip his great expectations? Real Reads are accessible texts designed to support the literacy development of primary and lower secondary age children while introducing them to the riches of our international literary heritage. Each book is a retelling of a work of great literature from one of the world’s greatest cultures, fitted into a 64-page book, making classic stories, dramas and histories available to intelligent young readers as a bridge to the full texts, to language students wanting access to other cultures, and to adult readers who are unlikely ever to read the original versions.

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About the Author:

Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 - 9 June 1870) is considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian era and created many of the worlds most notable fictional characters, including Fagin, Mr Micawber and Miss Havisham.

Review:

At a recent department meeting, it became evident that Dickens is an author who can divide a room. 'Let's teach some Dickens at key stage three,' some argued. 'I can't imagine anything worse,' others said. 'Too difficult', 'too wordy', 'enough to put anyone off'. 'But the stories are great,' I argued. It's easy to see both sides of the argument. As someone who has dipped in and out of Dickens over the years, I have always been delighted by the actual reading of the novel, but sometimes it has taken a considerable effort of will to start the thing. Many are long, all are complex, and there is some truth in the assertion that they are too difficult-not for all, certainly, but for some children at key stage three, Dickens could sound the death knell for reading pleasure. There is a case, then, for a differentiated Dickens, and here, as with other literary classics, Real Reads provides a helpful solution. The series currently includes nine of the major novels: Bleak House, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Hard Times, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, The Old Curiosity Shop, A Tale of Two Cities and Little Dorrit. All follow the same format-a couple of pages introducing the characters with some delightful illustrations by Karen Donnelly, forty-seven pages of narrative and a 'Taking Things Further' section at the back. Like other Real Reads, too, the novels are not designed to replace the originals, but to complement them. The publisher's hope is that for some readers, the Real Reads are a springboard into the original texts; for others it is to broaden their range of cultural experience and introduce them to a world of wonderful plots and characters. What makes these retellings particularly appealing from a classroom point of view is that significant attention is paid to the language use characteristic of the authors. The novels are retold with some integrity to the original-that is that some of the cadence of Dickens is retained; that some of the vocabulary remains authentic, and that some of those seminal passages remain relatively unaltered. Take the opening of A Tale of Two Cities as an example, 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the season of wealth, it was the season of poverty. In short, it was a time very much like the present.' In short, it is very much like the original. The retellings go some way to preserving Dickens's characters and while there are of course casualties, the characters that remain are rounded and engaging. For Oliver we feel pity as he pleads with Sikes 'P-p-p-please don't make me steal,' in the face of Sikes terrifying whisper 'Quiet, vermin'. We long for Nancy to be saved by Mrs Maylie and feel the poignancy of her departure: 'You must take Oliver to safety. I must return to my life.' We sense the justice in Fagin's wait for death 'his face so distorted and pale, his eyes so bloodshot, that he already looked more dead than alive as he awaited his punishment.' Of course, we also feel the delight and relief as 'Oliver and Mr Brownlow walked hand in hand to their carriage.' Some of Dickens's humour is preserved: Mrs Joe is to be found bringing Pip up by hand and at the birth of David Copperfield, Peggotty's 'bosom swelled with such joy and pride that two buttons popped from her bodice and flew across the room.' The heartbreak remains too: 'As he wasted away over the next few days, Little Dorrit didn't leave her father's side. His spirit was like a maimed bird, able to think only of the place that had broken its wings. Finally, his spirit broke free of all earthly concerns. Little Dorrit wept bitterly. The 'Filling in the Spaces' section at the back of each book provides a helpful resource for teachers. Elements of the plot that have been omitted in order to contain the retelling in such a thin volume are listed here --Jane Campion, Use in English

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