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Select Short Fiction

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Known and loved around the world for his vast and sprawling novels, Charles Dickens relished the opportunity to experiment with his shorter writings, investigating hitherto unexplored themes and engaging in uncharacteristic narrative techniques. This anthology presents some of the beloved storyteller's lesser-known works, focusing on tales that reflect his fascination with Known and loved around the world for his vast and sprawling novels, Charles Dickens relished the opportunity to experiment with his shorter writings, investigating hitherto unexplored themes and engaging in uncharacteristic narrative techniques. This anthology presents some of the beloved storyteller's lesser-known works, focusing on tales that reflect his fascination with the supernatural as well as his impressionistic sketches and dramatic monologues. The collection opens with "The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton," in which a gravedigger learns a lesson from mischievous spirits. Other ghostly tales include "The Baron of Grogzwig," "To Be Read at Dusk," and more. A selection of brief, atmospheric essays, most of them written for newspapers and magazines, recaptures vibrant scenes from Victorian London — its prisons, churches, schools, and street life — as well as episodes from the author's extensive travels. The book concludes with a series of dramatic monologues from Doctor Marigold's Prescriptions and other stories, all of them abounding in Dickens' distinctive wit and imaginative power.


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Known and loved around the world for his vast and sprawling novels, Charles Dickens relished the opportunity to experiment with his shorter writings, investigating hitherto unexplored themes and engaging in uncharacteristic narrative techniques. This anthology presents some of the beloved storyteller's lesser-known works, focusing on tales that reflect his fascination with Known and loved around the world for his vast and sprawling novels, Charles Dickens relished the opportunity to experiment with his shorter writings, investigating hitherto unexplored themes and engaging in uncharacteristic narrative techniques. This anthology presents some of the beloved storyteller's lesser-known works, focusing on tales that reflect his fascination with the supernatural as well as his impressionistic sketches and dramatic monologues. The collection opens with "The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton," in which a gravedigger learns a lesson from mischievous spirits. Other ghostly tales include "The Baron of Grogzwig," "To Be Read at Dusk," and more. A selection of brief, atmospheric essays, most of them written for newspapers and magazines, recaptures vibrant scenes from Victorian London — its prisons, churches, schools, and street life — as well as episodes from the author's extensive travels. The book concludes with a series of dramatic monologues from Doctor Marigold's Prescriptions and other stories, all of them abounding in Dickens' distinctive wit and imaginative power.

35 review for Select Short Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4★ although it's not my favourite, but, well, it’s Dickens! This is an anthology, which is to say, a dickens of a lot of Dickens, pinched from here and there, a little something for everybody. I found some stories delightful, some interesting, and some sad. [Some were silly or downright dull, but that’s probably not Dickens, that’s me. But I'm not breaking up with him!] I made no attempt to read them all thoroughly, for various reasons. He’d write a blog today, full of information and humour and p 4★ although it's not my favourite, but, well, it’s Dickens! This is an anthology, which is to say, a dickens of a lot of Dickens, pinched from here and there, a little something for everybody. I found some stories delightful, some interesting, and some sad. [Some were silly or downright dull, but that’s probably not Dickens, that’s me. But I'm not breaking up with him!] I made no attempt to read them all thoroughly, for various reasons. He’d write a blog today, full of information and humour and philosophy. He is almost unable to separate those things, I think, and when something is on his mind, it turns up again and again. There were some Christmas ones that seemed to be either precursors to or an echo of A Christmas Carol, and there were some characters in other stories who seemed as if I’d met them in other works. This is from the introductory note: “Charles Dickens began his first job at the age of twelve in a shoe polish factory, while his father and, for three months, his mother and siblings spent time in Marshalsea Prison due to their status as debtors. The sense of abandonment, humiliation, and responsibility that developed at such a young age would shape Charles Dickens’s character and influence his writing for his entire life.” There is no mistaking how he feels about his characters.: ” Gabriel Grub was an ill-conditioned, cross-grained, surly fellow—a morose and lonely man, who consorted with nobody but himself, and an old wicker bottle which fitted into his large deep waistcoat pocket—and who eyed each merry face, as it passed him by, with such a deep scowl of malice and ill-humour, as it was difficult to meet, without feeling something the worse for.” He would have had a grand time slinging insults in today’s Parliament or Congress. I love this one! ”He was to his wife what the 0 is in 90—he was of some importance with her—he was nothing without her.” I’m not a fan of the ghost stories or the fantasy, but I was very moved, as was Dickens, when he writes about “A Visit to Newgate”. The introductory note explains that this is one of a selection of pieces written when Dickens was a youthful reporter, some of which were published in 1836 as “sketches”. He is appalled that we just walk right by places of immense suffering with scarcely a thought. He says everybody would be nervous walking past Bedlam (the nickname for the hospital for the insane), but they don’t think twice about prisoners inside Newgate. Here’s the narrator's breathless 186-word, single sentence rant. “If Bedlam could be suddenly removed like another Aladdin’s palace, and set down on the space now occupied by Newgate, scarcely one man out of a hundred, whose road to business every morning lies through Newgate-street, or the Old Bailey, would pass the building without bestowing a hasty glance on its small, grated windows, and a transient thought upon the condition of the unhappy beings’ immured in its dismal cells; and yet these same men, day by day, and hour by hour, pass and repass this gloomy depository of the guilt and misery of London, in one perpetual stream of life and bustle, utterly unmindful of the throng of wretched creatures pent up within it—nay, not even knowing, or if they do, not heeding, the fact, that as they pass one particular angle of the massive wall with a light laugh or a merry whistle, they stand within one yard of a fellow-creature, bound and helpless, whose hours are numbered, from whom the last feeble ray of hope has fled for ever, and whose miserable career will shortly terminate in a violent and shameful death.” GASP! The narrator tours the prison, describes the men, the women, and then . . . the children. These are boys: “There were fourteen of them in all, some with shoes, some without; some in pinafores without jackets, others in jackets without pinafores, and one in scarce anything at all. The whole number, without an exception we believe, had been committed for trial on charges of pocket-picking; and fourteen such terrible little faces we never beheld.—There was not one redeeming feature among them—not a glance of honesty—not a wink expressive of anything but the gallows and the hulks, in the whole collection. . . We never looked upon a more disagreeable sight, because we never saw fourteen such hopeless creatures of neglect, before.” Today, he would be an activist. He hoped for the best, but I think he’d be disappointed. “Let us hope that the increased spirit of civilization and humanity which abolished this frightful and degrading custom, may extend itself to other usages equally barbarous; usages which have not even the plea of utility in their defence, as every year’s experience has shown them to be more and more inefficacious.” Thanks to NetGalley and Dover Publications for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted. Fans of Dickens will have fun browsing through this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    If you enjoy Charles Dickens and don't have the time to devote to reading or re-reading one of his classics, this is a great volume to keep on your shelf and revisit from time to time. When I first began reading this collection, my intention was to read it cover to cover. After reading a few stories, I started skipping around and decided to read the stories in no particular order and take my time. I found this to be a much better way to enjoy this collection of short fiction. Charles Dickens is If you enjoy Charles Dickens and don't have the time to devote to reading or re-reading one of his classics, this is a great volume to keep on your shelf and revisit from time to time. When I first began reading this collection, my intention was to read it cover to cover. After reading a few stories, I started skipping around and decided to read the stories in no particular order and take my time. I found this to be a much better way to enjoy this collection of short fiction. Charles Dickens is not an author to be rushed through. His works are best enjoyed when one can pay full attention and savor his wit an eccentricities. The collection begins with stories of the supernatural, which is for the most part what we'd consider to be Victorian era ghost stories, not unlike the spirits in A Christmas Carol, although shorter in length. The second section are "Impressionistic Sketches", which are short pieces written mostly during his career as a young reporter. I wasn't sure what to expect from the category of Impressionistic Sketches, but they tend to describe characters of his time. Some of these were more engaging than others, and some I just didn't really enjoy. I skipped around in this section a lot because there didn't seem to be a theme throughout the section. The final section is "Dramatic Monologues" and includes excerpts from longer works. Thank you to Netgalley and Dover publishing for providing me with a copy to review. I will be revisiting the stories in this volume for years to come.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    This was such a delight! I wasn't sure about what to expect from this book because I haven't read much from Dickens in the past. However, I was sure that I'd love the idea of reading short stories one at the time. So, I must say, that I really liked this books and most of the stories. The narrative was exceptional and it made me feel the story. Despite the fact that Dickens is a classic author, I think his writing is brilliant and his stories too. I encourage to all who are not very fond of classic This was such a delight! I wasn't sure about what to expect from this book because I haven't read much from Dickens in the past. However, I was sure that I'd love the idea of reading short stories one at the time. So, I must say, that I really liked this books and most of the stories. The narrative was exceptional and it made me feel the story. Despite the fact that Dickens is a classic author, I think his writing is brilliant and his stories too. I encourage to all who are not very fond of classics to give this a try. You won't be repented! I won this book through GoodReads and I thank to publishers for providing me this copy. My review isn't influenced by this fact

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    For anyone thinking that Dickens isn’t accessible and would like to try, but is put off by the length of some of his most famous tales – try this first! The story of the goblins who stole a sexton (gravedigger) – on Christmas Eve, goblins visit a cantankerous gravedigger to have chat with him about his ways... This story made me laugh out loud! The way Dickens writes just makes me smile! Within a few sentences I am there, engrossed in the scene; I can feel the cold in my chest and hear the gobli For anyone thinking that Dickens isn’t accessible and would like to try, but is put off by the length of some of his most famous tales – try this first! The story of the goblins who stole a sexton (gravedigger) – on Christmas Eve, goblins visit a cantankerous gravedigger to have chat with him about his ways... This story made me laugh out loud! The way Dickens writes just makes me smile! Within a few sentences I am there, engrossed in the scene; I can feel the cold in my chest and hear the goblins’ echoes! This just felt like a good old fashioned (obviously…) children’s fairy tale – complete with mythical creatures and a smattering of violence (don’t all the best fairy tales have violence or gruesome ends!?) I love the rhythm of his prose, which feel melodic, comforting and strangely familiar – more like the book is being read to me, rather than I am reading the book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Art the Bookworm

  6. 4 out of 5

    Terri Bond

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ivy Leong

  8. 5 out of 5

    Legit midget

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ted

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amie Gibson

  12. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bonita Martin

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Kate

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kara Lauren

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Martin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Campbell

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Stone

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Merchant

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Kitzmiller

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ronda Sizemore

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eddy Bryant

  31. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  32. 5 out of 5

    Susan Morris

  33. 5 out of 5

    Linda Meltzer

  34. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Schwarzer

  35. 4 out of 5

    Stacia Chappell

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