Nicholas Nickleby

1875 Household Edition of Nicholas Nickleby

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Isn’t this a gorgeous book?

Nicholas, his sister Kate, their mother, and evil Uncle Ralph Nickleby

And it has wonderful illustrations by C.S. Reinhart.

"Unhand me, Sir!"

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.

"Ah!" cried Mr. Mantalini, "Interrupted!"

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.

The Infant Phenomenon

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.

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6 comments on “Nicholas Nickleby

  1. Fun! I haven’t actually ever read it. But I love old books and, in general, I enjoy Dickens…though I sometimes get impatient with him!

    • marimann says:

      Yes, he can get a bit over the top at times, but I guess that’s part of the fun. Nicholas Nickleby has some really great characters that are archetypes of sorts: evil (Ralph Nickleby, Wackford Squeers), good (the Cheeryble brothers, Kate Nickleby), etc…and sometimes Dickens can carry their goodness or badness to the point of unbelievability. Someone in one of the Goodreads discussions used the word “cringe-worthy” which I thought was good. Anyhow, those extremes make me impatient sometimes; where does your impatience come from?

      • Yes, I would agree that those are “impatience worthy” things with Dickens…plus, I suppose I’m lazy with “older style” writing – I even got impatient with Anne of Green Gables last time I read it, though I love the story and loved reading them twice in the past. I guess nowadays I want to read as fast as I can…not be slowed down by language. Like reading the King James Version of the Bible…I like it if I feel like poetry/slowing down…but not for daily study! I supppose I’m lazy about all this. Or I just want to read as fast as I can so that I can find out what happens!!!

  2. Sarah says:

    Hello my name is Sarah and I am doing A project of Nicholas Nickleby for art collage . I was just wondering do you have any more pictures from the book I especialy need some pictures of madeline or of him rescureing her please thankyou kind regards Sarah.

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