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'Fog everywhere . . .'
Bleak House (1852-3) is a devastating satire on the evils of the English legal system and the state of Victorian society. A young couple arrive in fog-bound London as claimants in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, a suit that has dragged through the Court of Chancery for so long 'no man alive knows what it means'; meanwhile, a chance discovery sets a Machiavellian lawyer on the scent of scandal in the aristocracy. Populated by an astonishing cast of characters - ghoulish lawyers, pompous baronets, love-sick clerks, irresponsible philanthropists, wretched crossing-sweepers, homely detectives, penniless scriveners - and distinguished by some of Dickens's greatest, most allusive writing, Bleak House moves beyond the exposure of particular abuses to portray a whole society in need of 'spontaneous combustion'.
Commemorating the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens's birth
With their labyrinthine plots, evocative settings and unforgettable characters, the writings of Charles Dickens have delighted generations of readers. To celebrate the 2012 bicentenary of his birth, The Folio Society presents a selection of new editions of his works, based on the celebrated 1930s Nonesuch editions and featuring original illustrations by artists including Dickens’s long-term collaborator ‘Phiz’. Each volume includes an introduction specially commissioned from an esteemed writer, such as A. N. Wilson and Peter Ackroyd. They also feature individual new binding designs, with a quote from the novel blocked in gold on the front.
Read more about the life and work of Charles Dickens
Dickens was a one man powerhouse of creativity. For ordinary mortals just one of his many jobs would have been sufficient, (let alone a family of ten children). Yet despite his tours and editorial responsibilities, he wrote fifteen novels, three works of nonfiction and numerous shorter works. No wonder he should be called 'the great inimitable'.
From his pen flowed a seemingly inexhaustible series of characters who have enchanted generations of readers, whether we laugh at his comic creations or suffer alongside his heroes and heroines.
When the first serialisations of Bleak House and Oliver Twist appeared, readers thronged docksides and railway stations waiting for them to be unloaded. Today, the popularity of Dickens for TV series suggests his appeal is as strong as ever. It is Dickens's exceptional eye for character and voice, which keeps the books fresh, even though the milieu of workhouse and industry has changed. Mr Pickwick remains as funny as when he first stood to deliver his lecture on the Theory of Tittlebats and young Pip trembling on the Kent marshes as the escaped convict looms out of the mist, just as compelling an image.