The Pickwick Papers, (or rather The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club) although not Dickens' best work, is still a wonderful novel. The writing isn't as consistently good as it is in his later novels, but none of the writing is bad, and there are several flashes of brilliance which seem to herald what Dickens' would become when his genius had time to ripen.
One of my faves by Dickens. So funny.
"I shall never regret," said Mr. Pickwick in a low voice--"I shall never regret having devoted the greater part of two years to mixing with different varieties and shades of human character, frivolous as my pursuit of novelty may have appeared to many."
Dickens's first novel, which like many of his books, was published in serial form. Episodic and loosely structured, "Pickwick" is amusing and light, with hints of the darker turn his later novels would take (social issues, a court case that anticipates "Bleak House"). The influence of Smollett, Sterne, and Fielding is fairly clear, but it also shows Dickens discovering his all-embracing imaginative powers and deft character sketches. Not for the Dickens novice. Followed by his first great novel, "Oliver Twist."
Picaresque, humane, light and humourous. While not as dark as Dicken's later works, some of the literary themes he returned to are there from the beginning. An episodic satire based on accute observations of society and social norms including: courting, politics, families, debtors prisons and the bottomless tar-pit that is the Law.
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