Book Review #3

“The Pickwick Papers” by Charles Dickens:

The Legendary Author’s First Novel

By: Shauna Onofrietti

“The Pickwick Papers,” also known as “The Posthumorous Papers of the Pickwick Club,” was Charles Dickens’ first novel, serialized in 1836 and printed in book format in 1837.

There is no denying that Charles Dickens is one of the most successful and celebrated writers in history. With 15 books and a wide range of short stories and plays, it is an honor to share a birthday with Dickens, as I myself am an aspiring author.

Most first novels are just that – first novels. In most cases, an author will either publish one magnificent first published work and become forgotten, or will have to endlessly attempt to make their creativity surge and their writing amplify. As a huge Dickens fan, I will do my best to review “The Pickwick Papers” without being biased, hence why I will avoid describing his additional work to society.

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At 24-years-old and a Parliamentary reporter, Dickens was commissioned by Messrs. Chapman and Hall to conduct a series of descriptions to accompany “cockney sporting plates” drawn by Robert Seymour. “The Pickwick Papers” was originally intended to be a simple ironic and comedic daily comic in the newspaper, with Seymour’s images being the main focus. Picture novels were prominent in England during the time, but Dickens typically ignored the basic outline for the story and constructed it into something absolutely brilliant.

This altered the ordinarily simple comic. Dickens flawlessly executed his words to flow in a magically humorous way that centered around contemporary adventures in England, eccentric characters with ironic personalities, and the injustices the supposed “justice system” offered people of the 1830s.

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A copy of my own “The Pickwick Papers” from the late 1800s. Look at that magnificent cover!

Within “The Pickwick Papers” there are a variety of primarily central characters that are key to the adventurous tales that take place throughout the novel. In its entirety, every single character is an absolute oddball, with intricate oddities and eccentricities that establish the comedic tone of the story.

Samuel Pickwick is a business man and the chairman of the intimate Pickwick Club. Pickwick and his three fellow members of the Pickwick Club, along with his servant Samuel Weller, venture off to explore England’s many hidden stories. Pickwick often lands himself in situations that the viewers find humorous and he finds absolutely awful.

One of Pickwick’s traveling companions is Nathaniel Winkle who is known as the sportsman of the group. Ironically, readers witness him attempt to prove this ability multiple times, to which he fails miserably. Winkle is uncomfortably trapped in circumstances and becomes nervous, usually hurting himself and his companions in the process.

Tracy Tupman is a middle-aged bachelor who considers himself to be a hopeless romantic. He yearns for womanly affection, but often desires more than one woman at once. Augustus Snodgrass also presents ironic characteristics, as he often presents himself as being a poet, yet has never written a single line of poetry in his life.

The fellowship also brings along Samuel Weller, a sarcastic and hysterical servant who passionately presents his job with all he can muster. He is probably my favorite character in “The Pickwick Papers,” as he is usually the comedic relief and I enjoy how devoted he is, no matter what the circumstances contain.

Along their journey’s routes they come across many complicated occurrences, particularly with the man named Alfred Jingle. Jingle is a wondering rascal who causes mayhem at Dingley Dell, a popular location in the tale.

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When you flip through the last few pages of “The Pickwick Papers,” you will certainly have the satisfaction of having explored various adventures; it genuinely feels as if you yourself traveled on this journey with these idiotic characters. I believe one of the most interesting things about this first Dickens’ novel is his knack for connected episodic adventures, rather than just one long story with a single plot.

I would rate this novel a 10/10, no doubt. It’s an excellent resource when one needs a laugh, or just wants to escape the turmoil of reality and divulge into the oddities Dickens created. I find it unbelievable that he created this masterpiece at the age of 24. The text witnesses extreme character development, along with Dickens’ own sprouting talent. This is not a novel you want to miss out on!

“What was over couldn’t be begun, and what couldn’t be cured must be endured.”

-Charles Dickens in “The Pickwick Papers.”

220px-pickwickclub_serial Want to become a Pickwickian? You can purchase “The Pickwick Papers” here!

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812. At the age of 12, Dickens was forced to walk five miles to work every day, work for ten hours, then walk another five miles home. He only saw his family on Sundays, when he would visit them in a debtor’s prison; only a single sister was not imprisoned. 

Charles Dickens once claimed “Little Red Riding Hood” was his first love. He wished he could have married her, in order to achieve ultimate bliss.

Dickens once worked as a law clerk in the legal system. He cites witnessing many injustices during this period of time, hence a significant theme in “The Pickwick Papers” being injustices in the system.

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome (OHS) was first referred to as Pickwickian Syndrome. This is due to the fact that a character within the story exhibits symptoms of the disease.

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