Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'eighty

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 - Fiction - 730 pages
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(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

Charles Dickens’s first historical novel–set during the anti-Catholic riots of 1780–is an unparalleled portrayal of the terror of a rampaging mob, seen through the eyes of the individuals swept up in the chaos.

Those individuals include Emma, a Catholic, and Edward, a Protestant, whose forbidden love weaves through the heart of the story; and the simpleminded Barnaby, one of the riot leaders, whose fate is tied to a mysterious murder and whose beloved pet raven, Grip, embodies the mystical power of innocence. The story encompasses both the rarified aristocratic world and the volatile streets and nightmarish underbelly of London, which Dickens characteristically portrays in vivid, pulsating detail. But the real focus of the book is on the riots themselves, depicted with an extraordinary energy and redolent of the dangers, the mindlessness, and the possibilities–both beneficial and brutal–of the mob.

One of the lesser-known novels, Barnaby Rudge is nonetheless among the most brilliant–and most terrifying–in Dickens’s oeuvre.

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Barnaby Rudge: a tale of the riots of 'eighty

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About the author (2005)

Charles Dickens, perhaps the best British novelist of the Victorian era, was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on February 7, 1812. His happy early childhood was interrupted when his father was sent to debtors' prison, and young Dickens had to go to work in a factory at age twelve. Later, he took jobs as an office boy and journalist before publishing essays and stories in the 1830s. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers, made him a famous and popular author at the age of twenty-five. Subsequent works were published serially in periodicals and cemented his reputation as a master of colorful characterization, and as a harsh critic of social evils and corrupt institutions. His many books include Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, A Christmas Carol, and A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens married Catherine Hogarth in 1836, and the couple had nine children before separating in 1858 when he began a long affair with Ellen Ternan, a young actress. Despite the scandal, Dickens remained a public figure, appearing often to read his fiction. He died in 1870, leaving his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished.

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