One of Dickens’s finest novels, Great Expectations chronicles the fortunes of its young protagonist Pip as he is unexpectedly endowed by a mysterious benefactor with the life of a gentleman, enabling him to escape to London from the prospect of a humble blacksmith’s career in rural Kent. In the bustling, unforgiving capital he must learn for himself the pitfalls of love and wealth, and how to sort his friends from his enemies.
Through the lives of its unforgettable and iconic characters – such as Magwitch, Miss Havisham and Estella – Great Expectations charts the course of an England undergoing rapid social and economic change, and tells a tale that is among the foremost classics of the English language.
All his characters are my personal friends – I am constantly comparing them with living persons, and living persons with them.
Dickens’s figures belong to poetry, like figures of Dante or Shakespeare, in that a single phrase, either by them or about them, may be enough to set them wholly before us.
A literary phenomenon in his lifetime and renowned as much for his journalism and public speaking as for his novels, Charles Dickens (1812–70) now ranks as the most important Victorian writer and one of the most influential and popular authors in the English language. His memorable and vividly rendered characters and his combination of humour, trenchant satire and compassion have left an indelible mark on our collective imagination.