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Our Mutual Friend (Penguin Classics)by Charles Dickens
Synopses & Reviews
‘Has a dead man any use for money? … What world does money belong to? This world. How can money be a corpse’s?’
Our Mutual Friend centres on an inheritance – Old Harmon’s profitable dust heaps – and its legatees, young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and kindly dustman Mr Boffin, to whom the fortune defaults. With brilliant satire, Dickens portrays a dark, macabre London, inhabited by such disparate characters as Gaffer Hexam, scavenging the river for corpses; enchanting, mercenary Bella Wilfer; the social climbing Veneerings; and the unscrupulous street-trader Silas Wegg. Dickens’s last completed novel is richly symbolic in its vision of death and renewal in a city dominated by the fetid Thames, and of the corrupting power of money.
This edition uses the text of the first volume edition of 1865, and includes the original illustrations, a chronology, a list for further reading, and appendices on the illustrations and serial plans. Adrian Poole’s introduction examines biblical allusions and the central themes of Our Mutual Friend.
Taking a complex pattern of theme, symbol, comic exuberance, sharp social comment and telling detail, this novel takes a satirical look at wealth and its corrupting power, symbolized by the inheritance of a dust-heap and represented by the changing fortunes of Boffin, the golden dustman.
Charles Dickens's last completed novel tells the story of a young man who must marry a stranger in order to win his inheritance. Wanting to learn the lady's nature, John Harmon fakes his own death and takes on a new identity. As the complexities of the deceit are revealed, Dickens gives us his most profoundly cynical, yet brilliantly funny, insight into the corruption of wealth on human nature. 40 illustrations.
About the Author
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and “slave” factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorneys clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.
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