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The complex story of a notorious law-suit in which love and inheritance are set against the classic urban background of 19th-century London, where fog on the river, seeping into the very bones of the characters, symbolizes the corruption of the legal system and the society which supports it.
“Jarndyce and Jarndyce” is an infamous lawsuit that has been in process for generations. Nobody can remember exactly how the case started but many different individuals have found their fortunes caught up in it. Esther Summerson watches as her friends and neighbours are consumed by their hopes and disappointments with the proceedings. But while the intricate puzzles of the lawsuit are being debated by lawyers, other more dramatic mysteries are unfolding that involve heartbreak, lost children, blackmail and murder.
The fog and cold that permeate Bleak House mirror a Victorian England mired in spiritual insolvency. Dickens brought all his passion, brilliance, and narrative verve to this huge novel of lives entangled in a multi-generational lawsuit—and through it, he achieved, at age 41, a stature almost Shakespearean.
Introduction by Barbara Hardy
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Bleak House is a satirical look at the Byzantine legal system in London as it consumes the minds and talents of the greedy and nearly destroys the lives of innocents--a contemporary tale indeed. Dickens's tale takes us from the foggy dank streets of London and the maze of the Inns of Court to the peaceful countryside of England. Likewise, the characters run from murderous villains to virtuous girls, from a devoted lover to a "fallen woman," all of whom are affected by a legal suit in which there will, of course, be no winner. The first-person narrative related by the orphan Esther is particularly sweet. The articulate reading by the acclaimed British actor Paul Scofield, whose distinctive broad English accent lends just the right degree of sonority and humor to the text, brings out the color in this classic social commentary disguised as a Victorian drama. However, to abridge Dickens is, well, a Dickensian task, the results of which make for a story in which the author's convoluted plot lines and twists of fate play out in what seems to be a fast-forward format. Listeners must pay close attention in order to keep up with the multiple narratives and cast of curious characters, including the memorable Inspector Bucket and Mr. Guppy. Fortunately, the publisher provides a partial list of characters on the inside jacket. (Running time: 3 hours; 2 cassettes)From the Publisher:
The classic, definitive, world-famous Nonesuch Press edition of 1937, finally available again and bound in leather and linen. The text in these stunning volumes is taken from the 1867 Chapman and Hall edition, which became known as the Charles Dickens edition and was the last edition to be corrected by the author himself. The Nonesuch edition contains full-color illustrations selected by Dickens himself, by artists including Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"), George Cruikshank, John Leech, Robert Seymour, and George Cattermole.
The Nonesuch Dickens reproduces the original elegance of these beautiful editions. Books are printed on natural cream-shade high quality stock, quarter bound in bonded leather with cloth sides, include a ribbon marker, and feature special printed endpapers. Each volume is wrapped in a protective, clear acetate jacket.
The books are available as individual volumes, or as sets. The six-volume set contains Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Christmas Books, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations together with Hard Times. The three-volume set contains A Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit, and The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit.
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