Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Isn’t this a gorgeous book?
And it has wonderful illustrations by C.S. Reinhart.
I have been reading this book as part of a Goodreads group, and sharing these pictures with them as well, as I believe that most of them are reading from editions that have no illustrations. I’ve actually read this book before (please don’t tell anyone in the group), but it has been interesting to hear other people’s thoughts on the book as they read it.
Mr. Mantalini is one of my favorite characters, even if he is a “demmed” scoundrel, “demmed” and “demnition” being two of his favorite curses. Here he attempts to kill himself because his wife has accused him of ruining them, which he has. Since the attempt is being made with a “breakfast” knife, which I assume is like a butter knife, I doubt it is sincere.
This young lady, a member of the theatrical troupe that Nicholas has joined, is billed as the “Infant Phenomenon”, and her talent, according to the manager of the troupe, who also happens to be her father, “…is not to be imagined.” When Nicholas asks her age, he is told she is ten, to which he replies, “Dear me!” It’s extraordinary.”
“It was, for the the infant phenomenon, though of short stature, had a comparatively aged countenance, and had moreover been precisely the same age- not perhaps to the full extent of the memory of the oldest inhabitant, but certainly for five good years. But she had been kept up late every night, and put upon an unlimited allowance of gin-and-water from infancy, to prevent her growing tall, and perhaps this system of training had produced in the infant phenomenon these additional phenomena.”
Dickens himself had been an actor on the stage for a time, and so one wonders if producing infant phenomena is such a manner as described by Dickens above actually occurred, or if it was just a product of Dickens’ fertile imagination. Regardless, despite the fact that this 1875 edition is a beauty inside and out, it is Dickens’ words that make any edition a treasure.