Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty

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Chapman and Hall, 1841 - 420 pages
Dickens' first attempt at a historical novel--preceding A Tale of Two Cities by almost two decades--takes place during the anti-Catholic Gordon riots of 1780. Reviewers regularly draw attention to the sharply drawn descriptions of the Maypole Inn and its proprietor, and although it's not one of Dickens' most remembered novels, Barnaby Rudge serves as an excellent example of his ability to establish both strong characters and evocative atmospheres.

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Barnaby Rudge: a tale of the riots of 'eighty

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Page 294 - Look down there," he said softly; "do you mark how they whisper in each other's ears; then dance and leap, to make believe they are in sport? Do you see how they stop for a moment, when they think there is no one looking, and mutter among themselves again, and then how they roll and gambol, delighted with the mischief they've been plotting? Look at 'em now. See how they whirl and plunge. And now they stop again, and whisper cautiously together- — little thinking, mind, how often I have lain upon...
Page 258 - ... the skin with deep unseemly burns. There were men who rushed up to the fire, and paddled in it with their hands as if in water; and others who were restrained by force from plunging in, to gratify their deadly longing. On the skull of one drunken lad - not twenty, by his looks - who lay upon the ground with a bottle to his mouth, the lead from the roof came streaming down in a shower of liquid fire, white hot; melting his head like wax.
Page 336 - ... and drank until they died. While some stooped with their lips to the brink and never raised their heads again, others sprang up from their fiery draught, and danced, half in a mad triumph, and half in the agony of suffocation, until they fell, and steeped their corpses in the liquor that had killed them.
Page 169 - Women scolded, children squalled, heavy carts went rumbling by, horrible cries proceeded from the lungs of hawkers ; still it struck in again, no higher, no lower, no louder, no softer; not thrusting itself on people's notice a bit the more for having been outdone by louder sounds — tink, tink, tink, tink, tink.
Page 169 - The very locks that hung around had something jovial in their rust, and seemed like gouty gentlemen of hearty natures, disposed to joke on their infirmities. There was nothing surly or severe in the whole scene. It seemed impossible that any one of the innumerable keys could fit a churlish strong-box, or a prison-door.

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