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Charles Dickens’s satirical masterpiece, The Pickwick Papers, catapulted the young writer into literary fame when it was first serialized in 1836–37. It recounts the rollicking adventures of the members of the Pickwick Club as they travel about England getting into all sorts of mischief. Laugh-out-loud funny and endlessly entertaining, the book also reveals Dickens’s burgeoning interest in the parliamentary system, lawyers, the Poor Laws, and the ills of debtors’ prisons. As G. K. Chesterton noted, “Before [Dickens] wrote a single real story, he had a kind of vision . . . a map full of fantastic towns, thundering coaches, clamorous market-places, uproarious inns, strange and swaggering figures. That vision was Pickwick.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812967272
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/12/2003
Series: Modern Library Classics Series
Pages: 816
Sales rank: 514,384
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 11.02(h) x 1.37(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Richard Russo is the author of Empire Falls, winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Nobody’s Fool, and Straight Man. He lives in coastal Maine with his wife and their two daughters.

Date of Birth:

February 7, 1812

Date of Death:

June 18, 1870

Place of Birth:

Portsmouth, England

Place of Death:

Gad's Hill, Kent, England


Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

Read an Excerpt


The Pickwickians.

The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.

"May 12, 1827. Joseph Smiggers, Esq., P.V.P.M.P.C.,* presiding. The following resolutions unanimously agreed to:-

"That this Association has heard read, with feelings of unmingled satisfaction, and unqualified approval, the paper communicated by Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C.,Ý entitled 'Speculations on the Source of the Hampstead Ponds, with some Observations on the Theory of Tittlebats;' and that this Association does hereby return its warmest thanks to the said Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., for the same.

"That while this Association is deeply sensible of the advantages which must accrue to the cause of science from the production to which they have just adverted,-no less than from the unwearied researches of Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., in Hornsey, Highgate, Brixton, and Camberwell,-they cannot but entertain a lively sense of the inestimable benefits which must inevitably result from carrying the speculations of that learned man into a wider field, from extending his travels, and consequently enlarging his sphere of observation, to the advancement of knowledge, and the diffusion of learning.

"That, with the view just mentioned, this Association has taken into its serious consideration a proposal, emanating from the aforesaid Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., and three other Pickwickians hereinafter named, for forming a new branch of United Pickwickians, under the title of The Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club.

"That the said proposal has received the sanction and approval of this Association.

"That the Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club is therefore hereby constituted; and that Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., Tracy Tupman, Esq., M.P.C., Augustus Snodgrass, Esq., M.P.C., and Nathaniel Winkle, Esq., M.P.C., are hereby nominated and appointed members of the same; and that they be requested to forward, from time to time, authenticated accounts of their journeys and investigations, of their observations of character and manners, and of the whole of their adventures, together with all tales and papers to which local scenery or associations may give rise, to the Pickwick Club, stationed in London.

"That this Association cordially recognises the principle of every member of the Corresponding Society defraying his own travelling expenses; and that it sees no objection whatever to the members of the said society pursuing their inquiries for any length of time they please, upon the same terms.

"That the members of the aforesaid Corresponding Society be, and are, hereby informed, that their proposal to pay the postage of their letters, and the carriage of their parcels, has been deliberated upon by this Association: that this Association considers such proposal worthy of the great minds from which it emanated, and that it hereby signifies its perfect acquiescence therein."

A casual observer, adds the secretary, to whose notes we are indebted for the following account-a casual observer might possibly have remarked nothing extraordinary in the bald head, and circular spectacles, which were intently turned towards his (the secretary's) face, during the reading of the above resolutions: to those who knew that the gigantic brain of Pickwick was working beneath that forehead, and that the beaming eyes of Pickwick were twinkling behind those glasses, the sight was indeed an interesting one. There sat the man who had traced to their source the mighty ponds of Hampstead, and agitated the scientific world with his Theory of Tittlebats, as calm and unmoved as the deep waters of the one on a frosty day, or as a solitary specimen of the other in the inmost recesses of an earthen jar. And how much more interesting did the spectacle become, when, starting into full life and animation, as a simultaneous call for "Pickwick" burst from his followers, that illustrious man slowly mounted into the Windsor chair, on which he had been previously seated, and addressed the club himself had founded. What a study for an artist did that exciting scene present! The eloquent Pickwick, with one hand gracefully concealed behind his coat tails, and the other waving in air, to assist his glowing declamation; his elevated position revealing those tights and gaiters,4 which, had they clothed an ordinary man, might have passed without observation, but which, when Pickwick clothed them-if we may use the expression-inspired voluntary awe and respect; surrounded by the men who had volunteered to share the perils of his travels, and who were destined to participate in the glories of his discoveries. On his right hand sat Mr. Tracy Tupman-the too susceptible Tupman, who to the wisdom and experience of maturer years superadded the enthusiasm and ardour of a boy, in the most interesting and pardonable of human weaknesses-love. Time and feeding had expanded that once romantic form; the black silk waistcoat had become more and more developed; inch by inch had the gold watch-chain beneath it disappeared from within the range of Tupman's vision; and gradually had the capacious chin encroached upon the borders of the white cravat, but the soul of Tupman had known no change-admiration of the fair sex was still its ruling passion. On the left of his great leader sat the poetic Snodgrass, and near him again the sporting Winkle, the former poetically enveloped in a mysterious blue cloak with a canine-skin collar, and the latter communicating additional lustre to a new green shooting coat, plaid neckerchief, and closely-fitted drabs.

Mr. Pickwick's oration upon this occasion, together with the debate thereon, is entered on the Transactions of the Club. Both bear a strong affinity to the discussions of other celebrated bodies; and, as it is always interesting to trace a resemblance between the proceedings of great men, we transfer the entry to these pages.

"Mr. Pickwick observed (says the Secretary) that fame was dear to the heart of every man. Poetic fame was dear to the heart of his friend Snodgrass; the fame of conquest was equally dear to his friend Tupman; and the desire of earning fame in the sports of the field, the air, and the water, was uppermost in the breast of his friend Winkle. He (Mr. Pickwick) would not deny that he was influenced by human passions, and human feelings (cheers)-possibly by human weaknesses-(loud cries of 'No'); but this he would say, that if ever the fire of self-importance broke out in his bosom, the desire to benefit the human race in preference effectually quenched it. The praise of mankind was his Swing; philanthropy was his insurance office. (Vehement cheering.) He had felt some pride-he acknowledged it freely, and let his enemies make the most of it-he had felt some pride when he presented his Tittlebatian Theory to the world; it might be celebrated or it might not. (A cry of 'It is,' and great cheering.) He would take the assertion of that honourable Pickwickian whose voice he had just heard-it was celebrated; but if the fame of that treatise were to extend to the furthest confines of the known world, the pride with which he should reflect on the authorship of that production would be as nothing compared with the pride with which he looked around him, on this, the proudest moment of his existence. (Cheers.) He was a humble individual. (No, no.) Still he could not but feel that they had selected him for a service of great honour, and of some danger. Travelling was in a troubled state, and the minds of coachmen were unsettled. Let them look abroad, and contemplate the scenes which were enacting around them. Stage coaches were upsetting in all directions, horses were bolting, boats were overturning, and boilers were bursting. (Cheers-a voice 'No.') No! (Cheers.) Let that honourable Pickwickian who cried 'No' so loudly come forward and deny it, if he could. (Cheers.) Who was it that cried 'No?' (Enthusiastic cheering.) Was it some vain and disappointed man-he would not say haberdasher-(loud cheers)-who, jealous of the praise which had been-perhaps undeservedly-bestowed on his (Mr. Pickwick's) researches, and smarting under the censure which had been heaped upon his own feeble attempts at rivalry, now took this vile and calumnious mode of—

"Mr. Blotton (of Aldgate) rose to order. Did the honourable Pickwickian allude to him? (Cries of 'Order,' 'Chair,' "'Yes,' 'No,' 'Go on,' 'Leave off,' &c.)

"Mr. Pickwick would not put up to be put down by clamour. He had alluded to the honourable gentleman. (Great excitement.)

"Mr. Blotton would only say then, that he repelled the hon. gent.'s false and scurrilous accusation, with profound contempt. (Great cheering.) The hon. gent. was a humbug. (Immense confusion, and loud cries of 'Chair' and 'Order.')

"Mr. A. Snodgrass rose to order. He threw himself upon the chair. (Hear.) He wished to know whether this disgraceful contest between two members of that club should be allowed to continue. (Hear, hear.)

"The Chairman was quite sure the hon. Pickwickian would withdraw the expression he had just made use of.

"Mr. Blotton, with all possible respect for the chair, was quite sure he would not.

"The Chairman felt it his imperative duty to demand of the honourable gentleman, whether he had used the expression which had just escaped him in a common sense.

"Mr. Blotton had no hesitation in saying that he had not-he had used the word in its Pickwickian sense. (Hear, hear.) He was bound to acknowledge that, personally, he entertained the highest regard and esteem for the honourable gentleman; he had merely considered him a humbug in a Pickwickian point of view. (Hear, hear.)

"Mr. Pickwick felt much gratified by the fair, candid, and full explanation of his honourable friend. He begged it to be at once understood, that his own observations had been merely intended to bear a Pickwickian construction. (Cheers.)"

Here the entry terminates, as we have no doubt the debate did also, after arriving at such a highly satisfactory and intelligible point. We have no official statement of the facts which the reader will find recorded in the next chapter, but they have been carefully collated from letters and other MS. authorities, so unquestionably genuine as to justify their narration in a connected form.

Table of Contents

Biographical Notev
A Note on the Textxxi
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club1

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The Pickwick Papers 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 106 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Charles Dickens wit and humer is readily made apparent in his novel The Pickwick Papers. In many cases it made me laugh out loud. It was truly an enjoyable and fun read. 'In particular the hunting adventure and the Bagmans tale of a chair turning into an old man'. Throughout the novel there are nine different short stories that are either told by a character passing through or read by Pickwick theat seem to have nothing to do with the novel, but these certainly do not detract from the story. In true Dickens style, he does question some of the English Institutions such as the debtors prisons. I did truly admire Mr Pickwicks sense of values and his sense of what was right and what was wrong. I am also curious as to whether this novel had any influence on P.G Wodehouse's Jeeves. This is a long book but I wouldn't have minded it even if it were a bit longer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not get a free sample to down load. I updated the updates for nook etc. and tried again including resetting my iPad. I wanted this illustrated version so much I took a chance and bought it sight un seen. It down loaded just fine and quickly. This may be a clue to what I am about to add . . There is no contents. The "illustrations" are not listed. Meaning you cannot just go to them and view them you must page through, according to the location slider at the bottom of the screen, six hundred pages. OK if that were not enough . . . the illustrations are the size of postage stamps and will not enlarge. Even the cover art is so small I could not make out what it illustrated until my third visit. I would have spent much more if I could have a decently turned out book. As it is it is a less than usefull scrol of text with some ink blots taking up space.
xMissMelaniex More than 1 year ago
This was my first ever Dickens book and I loved it cover to cover. Dickens has an incredible sense of humor that just kinda sneaks up on you. I've gone on to read many other works by Dickens, but I'll never forget my first time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poor copy. Cant read most words
JVoakpark More than 1 year ago
Don't come to this book looking for a plot. It is all character, voice, and sensibility. Patience will be rewarded. And you'll forget Sam Weller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Written in Dickens' distinctive style, this book is truly excellent, offering insights into social ills of that time (many of which have survived to our own time) and providing a series of interesting and easily believable dramas, it also has the advantage of being hilarious. I read this book for the first time when I was in middle school and I've yet to tire of it. There's never a dull moment with the Pickwick Papers!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If your only experience of Charles Dickens involves never-ending readings of Great Expectations or Oliver Twist in high school literature class, then you may be surprised to find that Dickens was a master of wit as well as woe. In The Pickwick Papers all aspects of the amazing talent of Charles Dickens are on display. Through the adventures and ramblings of Samuel Pickwick, Esq. and his companions Messrs. Tupman, Winkle, and Snodgrass, we are given an intimate look at 19th Century England, from her small country towns to the dark heart of London¿s debtor¿s prison. The characters and places are vibrant, the story alive with humor and pathos. Continual feasting, fun, and holiday parties with friends share the pages of this story with tales of poverty, abuse, and neglect all set down by the hand of a master story teller and observer of human nature.
NightreaderJD More than 1 year ago
Heard a Proffesor talking about Dickens; and he peeked my curiosity for the Pickwick Papers. This version has character information & a Dickens biography, which help understand the times Dickens was writing. Initially written as a series of published short stories I can see how the Victorian readers couldn't wait for the next installment to come out. You can read this from cover to cover if you wish; or pretend you are in Victorian times and wait a bit between chapters. It makes the next chapter all the more compelling.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. Highly recommended to everybody. One of Dickens' best!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a great book, but Dickens wrote funnier things in his dark "Great Expectations" The book follows a simple plot, several pompous gentleman travel around the greater London area. It seems as though the narrator of Don Quixote is also narrating this, he glorifies the "Glorious Personage" many times, other characters include Mr. Winkle the sportsman who knows nothing of riding and hunting, Poetic Snodgrass, mischevious fortune hunter Jingle, the womanizing Tupman who seems to be outdone by snodgrass, Winkle, and Jingle, and of course the Cockney Sam. The stories told by the people they meet may sometimes be tedious, but the bagman's tale is not to be missed, it tells about a fellow who drinks a bit to much hot punch and imagines a chair turning into an amorous old man
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a story written "posthumously" about a rag tag motley crew of men led by Mr. Samuel Pickwick, a round, cheeky fellow in gaiters. The book may be long, but it's so engrossing you'll have it done in a couple of days.
Anonymous 6 months ago
dsc73277 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The only Dickens novel that I have never been able to finish.
bria.lynne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I believe this was my favorite book in ninth grade. Once through the first chapter I laughed through the whole book.
BookMarkMe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first Dickens and a struggle to get into. I'll re-visit when I've developed my reading some more.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A sort of Victorian drop-your-trousers farce. I suspect if I had been reading this when it was first published, in instalments, some weeks I would have been waiting eagerly for the next bit, other times able to take it or leave it. The chapters with the two young doctors in left me cold, mostly, but really liked the early escapades involving Mr Pickwick (who in my imagination looks a little like Captain Mainwaring from Dad's Army); if there was ever the slightest possibility that by accident he could wander into the bedroom of a partly unclothed lady he woud always end up doing so. Brilliant.
morryb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Charles Dickens wit and humor is readily made apparent in his novel the Pickwick Papers. In many cases it made me laugh out loud. It was truly an enjoyable and fun read. In particular the hunting adventure and the bag man's tale of a chair tuning into an old man. Throughout the novel there are nine different short stories that are either told by a character passing through or read by Pickwick that seem to have nothing to do with the novel, but these certainly do not detract from the story. In true Dickens style, he does question some of the English Institutions such as the debtors prisons. I did truly admire Mr. Pickwick's sense of values and his sense of what was right and what was wrong. I am also curious as to whether this novel had any influence of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves. This is a long book, but I wouldn't have minded it even if it were a bit longer.
samfsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dickens' first novel, and it shows a little in the beginning, I think. A very slow start. Throughout the novel there is the convention of the author speaking to the reader, commenting on the action. Quite old fashioned.It's a series of anecdotes and tales, loosely linked, but it improves greatly as it progresses. I think Dickens was learning his craft, and getting better at it, as he went along.
birdy55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the three books I read when I'm either doing chemo or recovering from a bad illness.
LSTEPH1967 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very humorous, I didn¿t expect to be laughing out loud at a Charles Dickens novel. I almost put it down after a couple of pages, but I am so glad I didn¿t. I didn¿t much care for the stories within the story. I found them to be an interruption to the flow of the book, but I can understand that the young Dickens was probably was working out different ideas and styles. I was a little sad when I finished it, didn't want to see it end, but I enjoyed the ending very much, the leaving of Mr. Pickwick and company happy and healthy. I will definitely be reading a lot more of Charles Dickens. Happy birthday Mr. Dickens :)
nicole_a_davis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Definitely not one of Dickens' best works. I actually could only get through about a third, maybe less, of it. It was a little bit too scattered--there's a cast of characters common to each chapter but no over-arching plot which I did not like.
Esquilinho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
delightful.: Dickens's first, and most light-hearted, work. It's an episodic novel, originally published in monthly installments, about the adventures of Mr Pickwick, the wannabe-womaniser Mr Tupman, the poet Mr Snodgrass and Mr Winkle, who have all formed a club, the aim of which is simply to observe life. You can see the influence it had on much later works by the likes of P G Wodehouse, E F Benson etc. There are many funny scenes here, some involving broad slapstick, such as Mr Pickwick being dumped in a wheelbarrow in the village pond! There's even fore-runners of the bedroom farce, as in the episode when Mr Pickwick ends up, (purely by accident you understand), in the bedroom of a middle-aged lady at a hotel in Ipswich. Coming in and out of the story at intervals is the incorrigible chancer Mr Jingle, who makes a living trying to con money out of impressionable women. This also must be where the Dickensian image of Christmas first came from, with the Pickwickians going to spend a traditional Christmas at Dingley Dell. Dickens achieves the feat of creating a light-hearted comedy, which never descends into whimsy. It is a tale of stagecoaches (coming to the end of their natural life, as the railway was beginning to take off when Dickens wrote this), poor people living off oysters, with oyster-stalls along the streets (not then a rich man's delicacy), and vivid details of coaching inns and old London hostelries. It is an engaging tribute to the late Georgian era of Dickens's youth.
mbmackay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dickens' first novel, and start of my attempt to read all his books by the end of his bicentenary year, 2012. Published by installments, the book necessarily lacks editing, and is so wordy, almost defining prolix. The book is initially reported as the proceedings of the Pickwick Club, hence the title, which allows a loose collection of stories and anecdotes to be used in the text, but the device is forgotten by the midpoint and proceeds as a standard narrative. There is very little character development - the members of the Pickwick Club start and end as caricatures, with their adventures being like something from Don Quixote. Sam, the servant, is a gem, and Dickens uses him as a vehicle for much fun with his dialogue. I enjoyed the detail of the description of life in London, and the language used - such as the use of "A1" and the phrase "of the Jewish persuasion", both of which I had thought were more modern. Good fun, but at 650+ pages, a bit of a challenge. Read November 2011.
wktarin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
LIght-hearted and delightful.
paulusm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A top read: witty and enjoyable