David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

Hardcover, 1850

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

Philadelphia : T.B. Peterson, no. 102 Chestnut Street, [1850?]. 3/4 leather over marbled boards. Volume in the Unig=form Edition of Charles Dickens' Works.

Description

David Copperfield, whose stepfather casts him out after the death of David's mother, lives through trials and tribulations, first at a boys' school and then as a young man in London before he goes to live with his great-aunt and eventually finds happiness.

Media reviews

Penguin Popular Classics
David Copperfield relates the story of his life - transmuting many of the early experience of his creator - right from his birth to his attainment of settled maturity and successful authorship. On his journey, David encounters a gallery of memorable characters, kind, cruel or grotesque: Mr Micawber, Uriah Heep and Steerforth are among the many who shape his development.

By turns absorbingly comic, dramatic, ironic and tender, the novel brings into energetic life the society and preoccupations of the mid-Victorian world

User reviews

LibraryThing member Smiler69
'Good day, sir,' said my aunt, 'and good-bye! Good day to you, too, ma'am,' said my aunt, turning suddenly upon his sister. 'Let me see you ride a donkey over my green again, and as sure as you have a head upon your shoulders, I'll knock your bonnet off, and tread upon it!'

It would require a painter, and no common painter too, to depict my aunt's face as she delivered herself of this very unexpected sentiment, and Miss Murdstone's face as she heard it. But the manner of the speech, no less than the matter, was so fiery, that Miss Murdstone, without a word in answer, discreetly put her arm through her brother's, and walked haughtily out of the cottage; my aunt remaining in the window looking after them; prepared, I have no doubt, in case of the donkey's reappearance, to carry her threat into instant execution. — CHAPTER 14. MY AUNT MAKES UP HER MIND ABOUT ME


An epic and semi-autobigraphical story of young David Copperfield, born six months after his father's passing, who suffered a miserable childhood during which he was abused by his mother's tyrannical new husband Edward Murdstone and his sister, who sent him to a school were punishments were handed out routinely and frequently. When his mother passes away, Edward Murdstone puts nine-year-old David to work in London, where he is left to fend for himself. David makes his escape and makes a long difficult journey on the road to seek out his great aunt Betsey Trottwood. This wonderful character takes David under her wing and gives him a loving home and an education until he is ready to pursue his studies toward a respectable career. As a young man, David falls in love repeatedly and eventually becomes obsessed with Dora Spenlow, a young lady he is determined to marry one day. The novel takes us through many twists and turns and introduces a great number of fascinating characters, some likeable, some absolutely revolting with many plots which are only resolved toward the end of the novel, when David, now a well-known writer, has gained in maturity and found his heart's desire. We all know that Dickens is verbose and he did not disappoint in that respect with this novel, which he considered to be his favourite child. I found much to like and was delighted with the light tone and David's good nature even as he went through incredible difficulties. The audio version wonderfully performed by Martin Jarvis is strongly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I was thoroughly entertained by this and never found it a slog reading through its 800 plus pages--and that actually came as a surprise to me because I am by no means a Dickens' fan. I decided to read this one because it's on the the list of 100 Significant Books I've been reading through--and because a friend told me that I should at least try this one before giving up on Dickens. This was actually his own favorite among his novels, and the one most autobiographical. Even knowing as little as I do of his life, I could certainly see plenty of parallels between the young Charles Dickens and David Copperfield. And especially given this was written in first person, this book has a confessional quality that drew me in and propelled me forward.

The thing is this novel I so enjoyed is guilty of every sin that so often drove me batty in Dickens: the rambling plot riddled with unlikely coincidences, the long, long length, the at times mawkish sentimentality, the phrases repeated again and again, the characterizations that often seemed more caricatures, and above all, the women characters that convince me Dickens thinks of the female gender as not quite human--or at least I felt so at first. David's mother Clara in particular drove me up the wall--I wanted to reach into the book and throttle her. It seemed to me in my reading of several of Dickens novels that his women run to four types or combinations and at first David Copperfield seemed no exception. There is the angelic creature who is often a victim, such as Clara, Little Em'ly, Agnes and Dora. There is the evil harridan such as Miss Murdstone or Rosa Dartle. There is the sacrificing Earth mother such as Peggoty. And finally, there is the (often rich) eccentric such as Betsy Trotwood. But ah, often the eccentric characters are so richly comic--and in the case of Trotwood there is more than initially met the eye--in fact I wasn't a third way through the novel before I loved her. And Agnes grew on me too. Not everyone's reaction--George Orwell, among others, despised the character. But she was the first female character who struck me as being a rational creature. But they're memorable--and not just the women. I don't think I'm ever going to forget Mr Micawber. I know I'll never forget Uriah Heep, the most odious, shudder-worthy villain I've met in literature.

So yes, after this book I got more of a sense of Dickens' charms. A Christmas Carol has been a favorite since childhood. And I did love Great Expectations--till the end, which I found a bit of a cheat. But I hated Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities. It's David Copperfield that's convinced me I should try more of Dickens. It was worth traversing its long and winding length.
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LibraryThing member jnwelch
"Of all my books, I like this the best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is DAVID COPPERFIELD."

Charles Dickens in the Preface to the 1867 Edition of David Copperfield

Sentimental, full of tears and elation, oddball characters, prolixity, villains and heroes, angelic women and sinning men, oppressors and oppressed, con men and their victims, the steadfast and the persevering, the eloquent, the grandiloquent and the tongue-tied, all abetted by a multitude of monumental coincidences - David Copperfield is a sprawling wonder, pure addictive reading. We meet Dickens' favorite character as a baby, when his aunt Betsey Trotford is so annoyed he isn't a girl that she takes a swing at the doctor, and follow him as a young boy as he outlasts an abusive stepfather, a school where he is subjected to mockery and mistreatment, "cold neglect", a grinding warehouse job at age 10, and much more. There are periods of happiness, particularly idyllic days in Yarmouth by the sea with his mother's maid Pegotty and her earthy family, but his life turns in the right direction only when he manages to change the mind of aunt Betsey and she begins to see his redeeming qualities.

Our narrator, David C. makes fun of his propensity to desperately fall in love, and recounts wonderful tales like the warm rapprochement between a cart-driver and Peggoty initiated by David, at the cart-driver's request, who informs Peggotty that "Barkis is willing". We meet the impassioned, voluble, good-hearted but perpetually destitute Mr. Micawber and his equally impassioned wife, sincere but always put upon Traddles, heartbroken Mr. Whitfield and his angelic daughter Agnes, the Achilles-like but misguided Steerforth, and many others, including of course the poker-stab-inviting Uriah Heep. (Throughout the story is enhanced by the old-fashioned illustrations by Hablot Browne). Repulsed by unctuous Uriah, Betsey Trotwood, in one of her many on-the-money comments, says, "If you're an eel, sir, conduct yourself like one. If you're a man, control your limbs, sir! I am not going to be serpentined and corkscrewed out of my senses!"

David eventually falls for pretty little Dora, who adores her dog Jip: "if we were not all three in fairyland, certainly I was." The scent of a geranium reminds him of an early meeting with her: "I see a straw hat and blue ribbons, and a quantity of curls, and a little black dog being held up, in two slender arms, against a bank of blossoms and bright leaves." There are sore trials ahead, and nefarious doings, with romance gone awry for some and delayed for others, while our favorite continues to doggedly press ahead and maintain his well-balanced outlook. If his good sense ever begins to fail him, Agnes and Aunt Betsey come to his aid. When one relationship falters because David seeks too hard to "improve" his paramour, Aunt Betsey reminds him, "You have chosen freely for yourself, and have chosen a very pretty and very affectionate creature. It will be your duty, and it will be your pleasure, too . . . to estimate her (as you chose her) by the qualities she has, and not by the qualities she may not have." Sound advice for a healthy relationship. I'd give a lot to have an Aunt Betsey come visit our family. She's a wonderful character.

Does everything come right in the end? Not everything, and there are tears throughout, but also triumphant successes. David's character has often been viewed as autobiographical, and we know some of what he endures matches Dickens' own early travails. Some of Dickens' success also comes to David. While the breadth of the story and the number of memorable characters is staggering, in the end there is an almost fairytale-like quality to the book and its paths that all lead to one another. Not just David, but the reader, is happily drawn into that fairyland.
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LibraryThing member victorianrose869
My favorite Dickens novel, and one I pull out again every few years for a re-read. I’m probably drawn to it at least partly because of Dickens’ own partiality to it - he was quoted as calling it his “favorite child”, and much of the material is said to be inspired by his own life experiences. It’s the kind of tale rarely told anymore: just a simple, unvarnished, yet detailed portrayal of a life. Reading it is like perusing the diary of a person much like ourselves – someone who just lives his or her life from day to day, peppered with their own small dramas and adventures, with few things particularly tremendous or earth-shattering occurring on any large scale, except to that person. The Story of Me, so to speak. Again, not the kind of story told very often anymore, presumably due to our need for more far-reaching plot lines and reading experiences that take us out of our normal range of experience. In the Victorian period, however, the serial novel – produced in bits via magazines – were the fad of the day, so readers looked forward to everyday goings-on of the young David Copperfield, whom we get to know, literally, from birth.

In what I think of as classic Dickens (and later, Alger) fashion, David as a young boy finds himself at the mercy of adults who should care for him but do not, and after a miserable childhood is eager to make his own way in the world, and this is when his life truly begins. Along the way he meets some of the most memorable of the many unforgettable characters with whom Dickens has populated his novels: David’s loathsome stepfather and step-aunt, the Murdstones, the hysterically loquacious Micawber, David’s dear nurse Peggotty, the frivolous Dora and her fiercely silly dog, the sensible, understanding Agnes, and the detestable Uriah Heep, among many others – Steerforth, Emily, Tommy Traddles, Ham, Mr. Peggotty, Mrs. Gummidge…the list goes on, each character more delightful than the next. Amidst the minutiae are the very real dramas of every day life – a young woman’s ruined reputation, a mismatched marriage made and endured, the ever-hovering threat of poverty and disgrace in a tenuous world, betrayals in both love and commerce, and every small experience of love, struggle, and redemption are played out here.

For me David Copperfield will always be a treasure of a story, one that spotlights how each of our lives, no matter how seemingly small or unremarkable, are truly enormous oceans of experiences unique to each one of us.
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LibraryThing member abbywilde
I do so enjoy Dickens when he's at the top of his game. It's as though he's emptied a box of thread on the ground and let it roll off in a million different directions, and then somehow he manages to weave the each one into something glorious and beautiful as the book concludes. Dickens at his best is immensely satisfying, complete literature.

I loved reading this, although I must say not so well as I loved "Great Expectations" and "A Tale of Two Cities."

Things to bear in mind when you read this book:

1) Be patient with Dora. She's doing her best.

2) It is appropriate to want to run certain characters over with a mail-coach at important points of the story.

3) Uriah Heep. That's all.
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LibraryThing member bell7
David Copperfield is the narrator of his life from boyhood through young adulthood, an account that in some ways mirrors Dickens' own life. It begins with David's own birth and his Aunt Betsey Trotwood's disappointment that he was not a girl. David's father was already dead, and his mother eventually remarried a man who believed in "firmness." So begins Master Copperfield's tale.

This is one of those books I've been meaning to read for years, those classics that I enjoy but only seem to get a chance to read over the summer. The length is daunting and the story starts slowly, which was much of the reason the book took me so long to finish. It was well worth it, however, as I was introduced to some of the most memorable characters - Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, Mr. Dick, Uriah Heep, and my personal favorite Miss Betsey Trotwood - that I have ever encountered. I'm sure I will read it again.
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LibraryThing member cmbohn
Dickens said that David Copperfield was like his favorite child. As I read this, I couldn't help but feel that it was apparent that his favorite sure had it rough.

David is a posthumous child - born after his father's death. That's a pretty fair preparation for the rest of his life. Nothing in life comes very easily for David. His mother remarries, and his new stepfather hates him. He's sent off to school and the headmaster is a brute. His mother dies and he is sent off to live and work on his own in London.

But David is not one to sit and moan about his fate. He does something. As I was reading this, his naivety in the beginning of the book was kind of annoying. It seemed like a lot of rough things happened, and he just reacted. But once he started taking charge of his own life, I started to like David Copperfield, and I was hoping things worked out for him.

One of Dickens' strengths is his ability to create interesting and sympathetic characters. This book was full of people I would love to know - Peggoty, Mr. Dick, Aunt Betsey Trotwood (she is a riot!), Doctor Strong, Traddles, and my very favorite, Mr. Peggoty.

The theme of family was big in this one - the questions of who is my family and how should I treat them. I loved that David went straight from Mr. Peggoty's house, with his large, mostly adopted, affectionate household to David's home with his new stepfather and aunt, with nothing but "firmness" and mistreatment. The two men were perfect foils for one another.

If you haven't read this one, I recommend it. It is a long book, but it is a much easier read than you might expect. Much better, IMO, than Dickens' other supposed masterpiece, Great Expectations.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
I found David Copperfield a rich and rewarding reading experience. Telling one person’s life story with all the twists, turns and unexpected events that one can experience and filling that story with interesting and varied characters made for an absorbing read. A prolific writer, Dickens did say of his works, “… like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favorite child. And his name is David Copperfield.”

Originally published in serial form, each chapter felt like a complete story into itself. Although he tends to be overly descriptive and slightly long-winded, the story of David’s life holds the readers’ attention throughout. The many supporting characters are fully developed and are so strongly presented that they become unforgettable. Of course, it is hard not to have favorites and I certainly fell in love with Aunt Betsy Trotwood, and although exasperating, I also grew very fond of David’s child-wife, Dora. The villains were appropriately nasty and slimy. The name Uriah Heep brings an immediate picture of what unctuous looks like.

My attention was captured immediately at the beginning of the story, but I did find the middle part of the book dragged at little, but, as Dickens started concluding the narrative over the last twenty chapters my attention was again riveted to the story. This is a book that will take you through all the emotions; I was happy, sad, tearful and angry at various times throughout the book. I believe David Copperfield is a fine example of 19th century literature at its best.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

This novel is a great example of what Dickens does best. He writes about a young man, orphaned and surrounded by dozens of colorful characters as he tries to make his way in the world. My favorite part of this particular Dickens’ tapestry is the varied people he brings into his protagonists’ life. They’re never boring and tend to have fantastic names.

There’s the eccentric aunt, Betsey Trotwood, who is convinced Copperfield’s mother is going to have a girl. Then David is born and she’s so disappointed she leaves the house immediately and never talks to her again. There’s Mr. and Mrs. Macawber, a curious pair who are devoted to each other, despite the mister’s tendency to get them into debt.

Copperfield’s step-father, Mr. Murdstone and his sister are an obviously sinister pair, while Steerforth, David’s schoolmate, just makes you a bit uneasy at first. Peggotty is David’s servant and dear friend and her courtship is hilarious.

Without giving anything away, I would add that I didn’t love the character of Dora. You meet her about half way through the book and she’s the equivalent of a dizzy blonde. No offense to blondes out there, but you know what I mean. I just found her incredibly annoying. On the flip side we have Agnes, Copperfield’s close friend. She’s clever and kind and I loved her.

This book feels a bit light-hearted at first, but it takes a darker turn as the characters are forced to deal with some horrible things. Apparently Leo Tolstoy once said that chapter 55, The Tempest, “is the standard by which the world's great fiction should be judged,” high praise from Mr. War and Peace himself.

There are also some wonderfully funny parts in the books, with lines like…

“He was always doing something or another to annoy me, or I felt as if he were, which is the same thing.”

One section gives a detailed account of David Copperfield getting wasted with his friends. It’s not something you ever think you’ll stumble upon while reading classic literature and because of that it’s even more delightful when you do.

After a few rocky years, I think I can officially say I’m a big fan of Dickens’ work. I haven’t loved everything he’s written, but the deeper I go into his lesser known works, the more I enjoy them. I think the key, for me at least, is to pace myself. His books are too similar to each other to read in a binge. If I read only one a year instead, I find myself eagerly anticipating the next one.
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LibraryThing member hampusforev
To give this book anything less than five would be irresponsible. The sheer weight and life that Dickens creates here is matched just by Tolstoy (who is the reason I read the book). I absolutely love Aunt Betsy Trotwood, she's brilliant. But to give it a clean five like I gave Anna Karenina or Moby Dick would also be irresponisble, those books, although as long or ever longer are never indulgent or seem unnecessary, every chapter and page is important. David Copperfield doesn't feel that way. Even though I was never bored, the sequential nature of Dickens writing really becomes damaging as a whole, and this is definitely a book where the parts are greater than the sum. I definitely see why people consider Dickens a master and although I felt DC a bit indulgent at times, I look forward to read some of Dickens more economical works.… (more)
LibraryThing member MaowangVater
In this semi-autobiographical novel, a successful writer reminisces about his early life and education. What starts as episodic memories soon becomes a vast witty narrative delight of over eight hundred pages with multiple intertwining plots and over thirty distinctly memorable characters from every level of nineteenth century English society. The false humility of the repulsive Uriah Heep and the grandiloquent optimism of the ever impoverished Wilkins Micawber, a character Dickens based on his own father, have become characters that have grown to be cultural touchstones beyond the novel.… (more)
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
I brought this book along to read on the trans-Pacific flight to China. For some reason, I never bothered to crack it, even though I didn't sleep much. Oh well, I did finally get around to reading it when we got settled and was able to savor it. What can I say? It's a classic. It's the life story of a man in 19th Century England, with a rich variety of supporting characters. A well crafted tale that earned itself a place on my shelf. (Once I get back to my shelf, that is.)
--J.
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LibraryThing member krytie3
One of my favorite Dicken's books(and apparently his as well). Love this edition since it has the original drawings throughout.
LibraryThing member chrystal
David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr. Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora; and the magnificently impecunious Micawber, one of literature’s great comic creations. In David Copperfield—the novel he described as his “favorite child”—Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure.… (more)
LibraryThing member MrsLee
This was both exasperating and charming. At the same time, tedious and compelling. Some of the characters I lose patience with, but others are delightful. There were moments I laughed out loud and I don't think I will ever think of Uriah Heep without a shudder. I will certainly never forget him.
LibraryThing member tealover
Life works in mysterious ways... Especially if you happen to be a character out of a Dickens' book! Poor David has to find out this truth more than once. Abandond by his beloved but helpless mother, sent to a boarding school by his spiteful stepfather, littel David decides to take matters in his own capable hands.
You just have to love this book! It brimming with life, love, sadness, treachery, honesty ... a cocktail of emotions that will leave you fully satisfied and a trifle sad after you turned the last page. The can be only one remedy, start over right away!… (more)
LibraryThing member santhony
Having recently read and enjoyed Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, I decided to up the ante by taking on his somewhat longer and more challenging David Copperfield. Already having sampled the writing style in Great Expectations, I found it somewhat easier to get into the flow of the story, and what a story it is.

Young David Copperfield is raised by his widowed mother Clara and their devoted servant Peggotty, both of whom care for and love him very much. His life rapidly changes however, with the marriage of his mother to the loathsome Mr. Murdstone and his sister Miss Murdstone, who move in and take over the household, including the care and instruction of young Davey.

From this point, we are introduced to a wide variety of richly drawn characters as Davey makes his way in the world. This novel is quite simply one of the greatest works of literature ever penned, widely acclaimed to be Dickens’s finest. I found it to be fascinating, both with respect to the characters, the story and the historical underpinnings.

There is really no “story” here, as the book simply follows young David from his earliest years, through adolescence and into young adulthood. Along the way, he experiences great joy, heartbreaking loss and countless adventures set against the rich and detailed backdrop of Victorian England. Such characters as Uriah Heep, Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, Steerforth, Emily, Ham, Agnes Wickfield, Dr. and Annie Strong, Dora Spenlow, Thomas Traddles, Mr. Peggotty, Miss Dartle and countless others create an indelible impression on the reader as they drift into and out of the tale.
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LibraryThing member gbill
One of Dickens’ best and close to his own heart; the story is essentially the life of f D.C. (David Copperfield), and a loose autobiography of C.D. (Charles Dickens). It’s ultimately a happy novel, as David perseveres through a difficult childhood, and with hard work and a little bit of luck, achieves success in his occupation and happiness in his marriage. It’s interesting to compare David Copperfield (1850) to the darker Great Expectations (1860); some prefer the latter for being more balanced but while I think both are great books, it’s hard to resist the brightness of David Copperfield.

Quotes:
On home:
“Ah, what a strange feeling it was to be going home when it was not home, and to find that every object I looked at, reminded me of the happy old home, which was like a dream I could never dream again!"

On solitude:
“The old unhappy feeling pervaded my life. It was deepened, if it were changed at all; but it was as undefined as ever, and addressed me like a strain of sorrowful music faintly heard in the night. I loved my wife dearly, and I was happy; but the happiness I had vaguely anticipated, once, was not the happiness I enjoyed, and there was always something wanting. ... What I missed, I still regarded – I always regarded – as something that had been a dream of my youthful fancy; that was incapable of realisation: that I was now discovering to be so, with some natural pain, as all men did. But that it would have been better for me if my wife could have helped me more, and shared the many thoughts in which I had no partner...”

On the transience of life:
”The rooks were sailing about the cathedral towers; and the towers themselves, overlooking many a long unaltered mile of the rich country and its pleasant streams, were cutting the bright morning air, as if there were no such thing as change on earth. Yet the bells, when they sounded, told me sorrowfully of change in everything; told me of their own age, and my pretty Dora’s youth; and of the many, never old, who had lived and loved and died, while the reverberations of the bells had hummed through the rusty armour of the Black Prince hanging up within, and, motes upon the deep of Time, had lost themselves in air, as circles do in water.”

On virtue:
“Dear me!” said Mr. Omer, “when a man is drawing on to a time of life, where the two ends of life meet; when he finds himself, however hearty he is, being wheeled about for the second time, in a speeches of go-cart; he should be over-rejoiced to do a kindness if he can. He wants plenty. And I don’t speak of myself, particular,” said Mr. Omer, “because, sir, the way I look at it is, that we are all drawing on to the bottom of the hill, whatever age we are, on account of time never standing still for a single moment. So let us always do a kindness, and be over-rejoiced. To be sure!"

On life:
“From babies who had but a week or two of life behind them, to crooked old men and women who seemed to have but a week or two of life before them; and from the ploughmen bodily carrying out soil of England on their boots, to smiths taking away samples of its soot and smoke upon their skins; every age and occupation appeared to be crammed into the narrow compass of the ‘tween decks.”

On living an examined life:
“The man who reviews his own life, as I do mine, in going on here, from page to page, had need to have been a good man indeed, if he would be spared the sharp consciousness of many talents neglected, many opportunities wasted, many erratic and perverted feelings constantly at war within his breast, and defeating him. I do not hold one natural gift, I dare say, that I have not abused. My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely, that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest. ... Never to put one hand to anything on which I could throw my whole self; and never to affect depreciation of my work, whatever it was; I find, now, to have been my golden rules.”

On marriage:
“...I am not delivering a lecture – to estimate her (as you chose her) by the qualities she has, and not by the qualities she may not have. The latter you must develop in her, if you can. And if you cannot, child,” here my aunt rubbed her nose, “you must just accustom yourself to do without ‘em. But remember, my dear, your future is between you two. No one can assist you; you are to work it out for yourselves. This is marriage, Trot: and Heaven bless you both in it, for a pair of babes in the wood as you are!”

Lastly this one on Déjà vu:
“We have all some experience of a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time – of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances – of our knowing perfectly what will be said next, as if we suddenly remembered it! I never had this mysterious impression more strongly in my life, than before he uttered those words.”
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LibraryThing member shanemichael
Just read Dickens' "David Copperfield" for the first time. I know I have postponed this luxury too long. But when I finally did pick it up I was ready for a plunge into the Dickensian world and I wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed it enormously. Dickens' deep characterizations and his obvious love for his creations were very pleasurable. But it was the delight of finally meeting such frequently heard-of names as Mr Micawber and Uriah Heep that stands out.
On the con side despite the descriptive detail of early nineteenth century England, the too-neat plots and the overly tight circle of David's acquaintance rendered Copperfield's world too unreal for me. This unreality, insistent and difficult to dismiss from attention, detracted just a little from my engagement. As well, Dickens’ famous sentimentality was often cloying - in fact at times it was like being bogged to the axles in treacle. And then, too, it was long-winded. While I understand the editorial reasons for nearly all his novels' great lengths, nevertheless one always looks at a Dickens novel with the front of mind thought, "At the least two hundred pages should be cut". But overall, the Copperfield experience was wonderfully, comfortably immersive.
As an Australian reader, Dickens’ attitudes and position at the centre of empire could not be overlooked, and I was amused at his impressions of India as a place from which expatriate plutocracy like Dora's friend Julia and her husband, return at the end of long careers - exploitation of Indians, and even the mortal risks for these expatriates, unexamined. Australia's position in Dickens' imperial constellation was even more amusing. For Dickens Australia was an apt and convenient disposition, far from sight, for fallen women like Em'ly to be exported for moral recovery. And while modest talents and ne'er do wells like Mr Micawber could never be expected to excel in the more rigorous imperial homeland, Australia provides for Dickens an undemanding, even sycophantic society where modest and even risible abilities such as Micawber's can be raised, lauded and fawned on. Still, to be fair, viewed in his context he is unexceptional amongst his contemporaries in these matters and we can excuse this British "haw-hawing" in the more general enjoyment. But the sting is slight and finally, we have the cricket to correct these misconceptions.
In Dickens’ throw-down idea, “How does the world go?...Mad as Bedlam”, given utterance by the amiable Mr Dick I found myself surprised into recognition of the familiar modern notion of the insanity of our own world which in broad, interprets especially Copperfield’s dire early life experiences. By the end though, it was Dickens’ humanity, and Copperfield’s consistent antipathy to the “three vices” named by his Aunt Betsey Trotwood - meanness, falseness and cruelty - that shone through for me.
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LibraryThing member fig2
Highly autobiographical, this novel explores childhood poverty and all of its terrors. Packed with amazing, unforgettable characters, the story vividly captures the human condition. Dickens called David Copperfield his "favorite child." You will agree. Fabulous!
LibraryThing member Steve38
The first time I've read a book on the recommendation of a fictional character in another novel. The main character in Per Petterson's 'Out Stealing Horses' re-reads David Copperfield regularly and finds it inspiring for his approach to life. I hadn't read any Dickens since school days so when I saw it in a charity shop I thought 'why not?'. And I'm glad I did. A 700 odd page meander through the life of David Copperfield is known to be a heavily fictionalised and romanticised autobiographical novel by Dickens. What a pleasure it is to wade through the high Victorian mannered and florid language at such a leisurely pace. Characters sculptured rather than sketched so it's no wonder they have endured as much as those in Shakespeare. Great also to get a view of life in the mid 19th century. Pre-electronic and pre-motor car life was nevertheless full and varied. But with it a clue to the sytle of writing. Long and leisurely. How else to fill the evenings?… (more)
LibraryThing member Clara53
Quite a saga. A veritable classic in its own right. Probably one of the most reviewed books there ever was... So I will be short. This enormous novel became part of me - even though I read it with some breaks (devoted to other books). The semi-biographical story is compelling, the characters will live in my mind for a long time. Mildly criticizing one of his characters (Mr. Micawber), Dickens says: "We talk about the tyranny of words, but we like to tyrannize over them too; we are fond of having a large superfluous establishment of words to wait upon us on great occasions; we think it looks important, and sounds well." And "....as slaves when they are too numerous rise against their masters, so I think I could mention a nation that has got into many great difficulties, and will get into many greater, from maintaining too large a retinue of words." Slightly ironic, I have to say - as if the author is admonishing his own prolifically verbose self.… (more)
LibraryThing member Kateingilo
one of my all-time favorite books. I loved this particular edition because the pages a limp enough and the binding relaxed enough to stay open on its own.
LibraryThing member Hera
Probably my favourite novel of the 19th century. I think this is the most skilful of Dickens' works and re-read it frequently.
LibraryThing member Seajack
Usual strong audio performance by Frederick Davidson (a/k/a David Case), bringing the dry humor and sarcasm alive. Involved, detailed setting up of characters who come into their own later, with a wait for the payoff in some cases. Still, I'm glad I read it - I even grew fond of the insufferable Dora by the end!

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non-circulating
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