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Great Expectations
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Great Expectations Mass market paperbound - 1982

by Charles Dickens

"Great Expectations" is at once a superbly constructed novel of spellbinding mastery and a profound examination of moral values. Here, some of Dickens's most memorable characters come to play their part in a story whose title itself reflects the deep irony that shaped Dickens's searching reappraisal of the Victorian middle class.


About this book

Great Expectations is a classic novel by Charles Dickens, published in 1861. It tells the story of Pip, a young orphan boy brought up by his abusive sister and her blacksmith husband in rural England. Pip dreams of becoming a gentleman and escaping poverty, but his life takes a dramatic turn when he receives a large fortune from an anonymous benefactor. As he rises in society, he becomes involved with a host of colorful characters, including the eccentric Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter Estella, and learns valuable lessons about love, loyalty, and the true meaning of happiness. The novel is considered one of Dickens' greatest works and a masterpiece of English literature.

From the publisher

George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) was a leading playwright of the twentieth century. His plays include Man and Superman (1905), Major Barbara (1905), Pygmalion (1913), and Saint Joan (1923).




From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the jacket flap

In the marshy mists of a village churchyard, a tiny orphan boy named Pip is suddenly terrified by a shivering, limping convict on the run. Years later, a supremely arrogant young Pip boards the coach to London where, by the grace of a mysterious benefactor, he will join the ranks of the idle rich and "become a gentleman." Finally, in the luminous mists of the village at evening, Pip the man meets Estella, his dazzingly beautiful tormentor, in a ruined garden--and lays to rest all the heartaches and illusions that his "great expectations" have brought upon him. Dickens's biographer, Edgar H. Johnson, has said that--except for the author's last-minute tampering with his original ending--"Great Expectations is "the most perfectly constructed and perfectly written of all Dickens's works." In John Irving's Introduction to this edition, the novelist takes the view that Dickens's revised ending is "far more that mirror of the quality of trust in the novel as a whole." Both versions of the ending are printed here.

First Edition Identification

Great Expectations by Dickens was first published on 6 July 1861 in London by Chapman and Hall. It is considered not only the rarest and most valuable of Dickens's works, but arguably his greatest. Copies in the original cloth are particularly desirable.

Published in 3 volumes, the first edition of Great Expectations has the original publisher’s violet wavy-grain cloth binding with floral decoration in blind on covers and spines lettered in gilt.

Five impressions of the first edition were printed, each of the latter four with a new edition statement on the title page.

The first edition first issue of Great Expectations’ rarity has been attributed to the probable small binding-up of copies with the first title page, coupled with the fact that the first edition was almost entirely taken up by the libraries.


Details

  • Title Great Expectations
  • Author Charles Dickens
  • Binding Mass Market Paperbound
  • Edition [ Edition: Repri
  • Pages 560
  • Volumes 1
  • Language ENG
  • Publisher Bantam Classics, New York, New York, U.S.A.
  • Date 1982-08-01
  • Features Bibliography, Table of Contents
  • ISBN 9780553213423 / 0553213423
  • Weight 0.57 lbs (0.26 kg)
  • Dimensions 6.84 x 4.26 x 0.95 in (17.37 x 10.82 x 2.41 cm)
  • Reading level 1200
  • Themes
    • Cultural Region: British
    • Topical: Home School
  • Library of Congress subjects Young men - England, England - Social life and customs - 19th
  • Library of Congress Catalog Number 00003699
  • Dewey Decimal Code FIC

Excerpt

Chapter I.


My father's family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my
infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than
Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.


I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone
and my sister – Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw
my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for
their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies
regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their
tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea
that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the
character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above,"
I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To
five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were
arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of
five little brothers of mine – who gave up trying to get a living exceedingly
early in that universal struggle – I am indebted for a belief I religiously
entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in
their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of
existence.


Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within as the river wound,
twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the
identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw
afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that
this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip
Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were
dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and
Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and
that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes
and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes;
and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and that the distant
savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the
small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was
Pip.


"Hold your noise!" cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among
the graves at the side of the church porch. "Keep still, you little devil,
or I'll cut your throat!"


A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with
no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A
man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by
stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who
limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in
his head as he seized me by the chin.


"Oh! Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded in terror. "Pray don't do it,
sir."


"Tell us your name!" said the man. "Quick!"


"Pip, sir."


"Once more," said the man, staring at me. "Give it mouth!"


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Media reviews

"No story in the first person was ever better told."


From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the author

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was a leading playwright of the twentieth century. His plays include Man and Superman (1905), Major Barbara (1905), Pygmalion (1913), and Saint Joan (1923).

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