Date of Publication: 1850 (my edition: 1959, Grosset & Dunlap)
Number of Pages: 850
Synopsis (from Amazon.com): 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.
Review: This is, by far, my favorite Dickens novel. But it’s not the hero so much that I love, although David is an extraordinary hero, it’s the myriad other characters that drift in and out of his life. This is the true magic of this book. David himself is steady, upright, passionate, proud, and sincere; all qualities a good hero needs. He fulfills his duty admirably. But the secondary characters are the ones that shine through. There is the tyrannical Murdstone, David’s domineering stepfather; Uriah Heep, a fawning law clerk who professes his own “‘umbleness”, but who really seeks to attain power over all others; the relentlessly ruined and cheerful Mr. Micawber, who is one of the greatest comedic characters in all of literature; Agnes, the angel who watches over David with sincere disinterestedness; and Traddles, the constant and steady companion who thinks nothing of himself and everything of his friends. These are only a few of the memorable cast of characters that David encounters throughout his eventful life.
This is truly one of the great classics of the Victorian age. Besides these entertaining characters, the story delves into some of the most disturbing social issues of the nineteenth century: child labor, debt, emigration, crime, debauchery, and class struggles. Woven within the complex story is an evocative landscape which ranges from the quiet countryside, to the bustle of London, and even to a wild and rugged seaport. Dickens succeeded in all aspects of storytelling: plot, characters, and setting are all developed to perfection. It’s hard to praise this book too highly, and it deserves its place among the great classics. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone…and, indeed, I have!