Bleak House

From Academic Kids

Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens, published in 20 monthly parts from March, 1852 through September, 1853. The plot concerns a long-running legal dispute (Jarndyce and Jarndyce) which has far-reaching consequences for all involved. Dickens's assault on the flaws of the British judiciary system is based in part on his own experiences as a law clerk. His harsh characterization of the slow, arcane Chancery law process gave voice to widespread frustration with the system, helping to set the stage for its eventual reform in the 1870s.

In Bleak House Dickens experimented with the device of dual narrators: an unnamed third-person narrator and the orphan Esther take turns to tell the story. The scope is probably the broadest Dickens ever attempted, ranging from the filthy slums to the landed aristocracy, in a narrative that is in equal parts satire and comedy. The novel is also remarkable for the character of Mr. Bucket, one of the first detectives to appear in English fiction.

The character Mrs. Jellyby, always involved in good causes but with a chaotic family, is based upon Caroline Chisholm. Many people saw the character of Harold Skimpole as a portrait of James Henry Leigh Hunt but this was always denied by Dickens.

Some critics, including George Gissing and G. K. Chesterton, take this to be Dickens's best novel.

Publication

Like most Dickens novels, Bleak House was published in 19 monthly installments, each containing 32 pages of text and two illustrations by Phiz. Each cost one shilling, except for the last, which was a double issue and cost two.

  • I - March 1852 (chapters 1-4);
  • II - April 1852 (chapters 5-7);
  • III - May 1852 (chapters 8-10);
  • IV - June 1852 (chapters 11-13);
  • V - July 1852 (chapters 14-16);
  • VI - August 1852 (chapters 17-19);
  • VII - September 1852 (chapters 20-22);
  • VIII - October 1852 (chapters 23-25);
  • IX - November 1852 (chapters 26-29);
  • X - December 1852 (chapters 30-32);
  • XI - January 1853 (chapters 33-35);
  • XII - February 1853 (chapters 36-38);
  • XIII - March 1853 (chapters 39-42);
  • XIV - April 1853 (chapters 43-46);
  • XV - May 1853 (chapters 47-49);
  • XVI - June 1853 (chapters 50-53);
  • XVII - July 1853 (chapters 54-56);
  • XVIII - August 1853 (chapters 57-59);
  • XIX-XX - September 1853 (chapters 60-67).

External link

Template:Wikisource

  • Template:Gutenberg
  • Bleak House (http://www.dickens-literature.com/Bleak_House/index.html) - HTML indexed, searchable version of the text.
  • Bleak House (http://www.charles-dickens.org/bleak-house/) - In easy to read HTML format.
  • CliffsNotes.com (http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-40.html) - Free online CliffsNotes.
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