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Look Inside | Reading Guide
Sep 10, 2002
| ISBN 9780375761140
May 10, 1994
| ISBN 9780679420286
Nov 01, 2000
| ISBN 9780679641353
Jan 01, 1998
| 2160 Minutes
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Sep 10, 2002 | ISBN 9780375761140
May 10, 1994 | ISBN 9780679420286
Nov 01, 2000 | ISBN 9780679641353
Jan 01, 1998 | ISBN 9781415910443
A satiric masterpiece about the allure and peril of money, Our Mutual Friend revolves around the inheritance of a dust-heap where the rich throw their trash. When the body of John Harmon, the dust-heap’s expected heir, is found in the Thames, fortunes change hands surprisingly, raising to new heights “Noddy” Boffin, a low-born but kindly clerk who becomes “the Golden Dustman.” Charles Dickens’s last complete novel, Our Mutual Friend encompasses the great themes of his earlier works: the pretensions of the nouveaux riches, the ingenuousness of the aspiring poor, and the unfailing power of wealth to corrupt all who crave it. With its flavorful cast of characters and numerous subplots, Our Mutual Friend is one of Dickens’s most complex—and satisfying—novels.
When John Harmon—who has been left a fortune if he will marry the girl his miserly father chose for him—is found floating dead in the Thames, he sets in motion a story overflowing with cases of deception and mistaken identity, of murder and attempted murder, of sin and redemption. The influence of the notorious Harmon inheritance ripples through a large cast of vividly drawn characters from every level of society, including Noddy Boffin, known as “the Golden Dustman”; the one-legged villain Silas Wegg; willful Bella Wilfer; saintly Lizzie Hexam; the sharp-witted doll’s dressmaker Jenny Wren; the social-climbing Veneerings; the ruthless speculator Fascination Fledgeby; and the river-scavenging corpse robbers Gaffer Hexam and Rogue Riderhood. Out of this flurry of invention Dickens creates in Our Mutual Friend a portrait of a city and a civilization that is at once indignant, compassionate, and utterly unforgettable.Charles Dickens’s last completed novel features one of his most surreal and haunting visions of London, shadowed by towering dust heaps that supply the corrupting riches at the heart of the plot and washed by the dark river that winds its way insistently through the story.This edition reprints the original Everyman’s preface by G. K. Chesterton and features forty illustrations by Marcus Stone.
Our Mutual Friend is a satiric masterpiece about money. The last novel Dickens completed, and perhaps his most angry, it sounds all the great themes of his later work: the innocence and venality of the aspiring poor, the hollow pretensions of the nouveau riche, the unfailing power of wealth to corrupt everyone it touches. Among those caught up in the ruthless forces of change in Dickens’s London are the archetypal innocent Noddy Boffin, who ‘inherits’ a dustheap where the trash of the rich is thrown; Silas Wegg, a grotesque, one-legged man with unlimited fantasies of grandeur and power; Mr. Veneering, Member of Parliament, whose house, furnishings, servants, carriage, and baby are all ‘bran-new’; and Alfred and Sophronia Lammle, who marry one another because each wrongly believes the other is rich. The social themes of Our Mutual Friend–having to do with the treatment of the poor, education, representative government, even the inheritance laws–are informed and brought into coherence by the underlying presence of the Thames, signifying the perpetual flow of life into death, and acting as agent of retribution and regeneration too, as a kind of river god in fact, in a novel in which no other god is very present.
Charles Dickens was born in a little house in Landport, Portsea, England, on February 7, 1812. The second of eight children, he grew up in a family frequently beset by financial insecurity. When the family fortunes improved, Charles went back to… More about Charles Dickens
“The fact that Dickens is always thought of as a caricaturist, although he was constantly trying to be something else, is perhaps the surest mark of his genius.” —George Orwell
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