Barnaby Rudge

by Charles Dickens

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The 5th and the least popular novel by Charles Dickens. But it’s most certainly worth your while. Download The Barnaby Rudge, READ online FREE or buy:

Charles Dickens, the outstanding British writer, is considered to be one of the greatest when it comes to educational and thought-provoking historical novels. He’s famous for depicting the livelihood of the poor and the social inequality that was raging during the 18th-19th centuries. As for Barnaby Rudge, it first saw the light of day in 1841. This is the 5th published book by Mr. Dickens.

Fact: the man himself thought very highly of it and wanted Barnaby to be his first-ever published story. However, controversy with the publishers resulted in numerous delays, and, eventually, he had to release it as a serial. This is the first historical novel written by the legendary author. The second and the last one is the grandiose A Tale Of Two Cities that was written many years later.

Barnaby Rudge Summary

The plot follows two families – the Chesters and the Haredales. They have been rivals for a very long time; at the same time, Edward Chester is in love with the “enemy’s daughter”. The boy’s father wants him to marry a woman he doesn’t love and to forget about the girl.

The lady is wealthy and influential, which is why John, the head of the Chester family, wants his son to tie the knot with her. Otherwise, he won’t be able to enjoy the affluent life that he’s so fond of. So, why not make the boy marry a stranger?

Besides, he’s got a huge debt that needs to be paid. But Ed is not ready to give up on his feelings and decides to leave home and find his happiness elsewhere. Eventually, he learns of his dad’s true intentions.

Barnaby Rudge Themes

Set during the second half of the 18th century (1780, to be exact), it’s focused on the infamous Gordon Riots. As always, the master writes about the barbaric laws and the harsh reality of life in London and every other city/settlement in the UK. Every single European country was living under the same rules (and Dickens talks about that in A Tale Of Two Cities), but the focus here is on London.

The critics today call him the biggest champion of the good, honest, hard-working people that were forced to survive in the brutal environment of injustice and inequality. It’s no secret that Dickens himself knew first-hand what it meant to stand low on the social ladder and to take care of yourself at a very young age.

Charles Dickens Has A Lot In Common With His Heroes

When he was just a teenage boy, the future writer had to work for 10-12 hours just to get by. The government didn’t care about him or any other kid his age. The only thing they wanted was to make more money and spread their influence even further.

That’s the main idea, the main theme in this novel. By the way, Barnaby Rudge is one of the least known novels by the famed author and there aren’t that many adaptations. Still, for the scholars and the fans, it’s priceless, simply because it’s Dickens’s first book.

Religion As The Driving Force Behind Barnaby Rudge

The aforementioned Gordon Riots were against the act that gave the Catholics more rights than ever before. The act allowed them to serve in the army, own property, and be equals to the rest of the population. At first, the riots were quiet; but later they turned into the most destructive mayhem in the UK back in the 18 century.

Dickens spent a lot of time learning about all the ins and outs of these riots and did everything in a writer’s power to be objective about those events. Civil unrest and chaos took place during the rebellion in America and Britain’s fight against three major European powers.

Barnaby Rudge Movie

As mentioned above, there aren’t many adaptations of this novel, simply because it’s not the most popular one by Dickens. Back in 1911, the first film saw the light of day. A movie titled Barnaby Rudge arrived in 1915.

It was called the most expensive film made in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, it is lost now. The movie cast included Powers as the lead character, Violet Hopson as Emma, and Lionelle Howard as Ed. In 1960, a thirteen-episode show on TV was made.

Obviously, there were many theatrical adaptations. The most famous ones were introduced to the public in 1854 and 1875. In 2012, Eileen Norris turned it into quite an unusual stage play. So, even though this is the least known novel by Charles Dickens, it still got the recognition it most certainly deserves.

Interesting Facts About The Novel

Dickens first came up with this story in 1836 and had been perfecting it up to 1839, when he sat down and started to write it. In summer 1841, he was on a “getaway trip” with his dear wife. The novel was published that same year. Plus, the writer’s child, Walter, was born. A year later, the family traveled to America to get inspired and gather new ideas.

The critics and the fans weren’t very excited about Barnaby Rudge. Even Dickens’s friends told him that he could’ve done so much better. Other folks claimed that it was the least important novel in the writer’s lineup and didn’t carry any significance for literature. However, the legendary Allan Poe was among the readers who really loved the story and the characters.

Furthermore, he turned out to be a big fan of Grip, the raven and argued that it was treated badly by the author. A couple of years later, encouraged by Barnaby, Poe wrote his immortal poem called The Raven. He never admitted that Grip gave him the idea, but many historians believe that Dickens’s so-so novel became the foundation for Poe’s great work.

How Charles Dickens Came Up With The Plot

The master had the story in his head back when he was just a twenty-some-year-old lad. He was turning into a grown-up man, an adult, and wanted to express himself through literature. He knew very well what disaster meant – he lived through it – and that’s probably why this novel is full of despair.

And, given his dad’s turbulent life, it shouldn’t come to you as a surprise why Barnaby Rudge is full of catastrophic relationships between fathers and sons. Barnaby’s father left him when he was a little child. Edward’s father wanted to prevent him from following his heart and finding happiness with the girl he fell in love with.

Walter Scott was among the biggest inspirations for the young Charles. At first, the contract with the publisher was pretty steep. However, after the success of international bestsellers like Oliver Twist, he renegotiated the contract and got a significantly bigger paycheck.

A Warning For The New Generations

The 21st century is full of riots, civil unrest, religious marches and social inequality. In that regard, Dickens was a visionary and predicted that unless we – the regular folks – do something about it, the world will always be ruled by chaos. People will always find something to be frustrated with, and blood will be spilled.

The message that the writer put in this book is just as relevant in the 21st century as in the 19th century. Especially today, when there are new riots on every step of the way. You should absolutely read this novel if sociology, psychology, religion, and family are topics of interest to you.

Summing Up

Even though this isn’t the greatest novel by the gifted Charles Dickens, it will still be worth your while. The fans of the writer will be happy to read the master’s first “serious” book. The scholars and the critics will appreciate it as a big step in Dickens’s career.

Besides, it’s well-written, idealistic, comes with rich, realistic characters, and does a great job of putting the thoughts and hopes of the people involved with the Gordon Riots onto the pages. Historically speaking, this is an invaluable source.

And while most of the critics and historians really love A Tale Of Two Cities, this novel is also worth a detailed study. Dickens was still young, and, despite the fact that some of his ideas were naive at best, his restless heart and soul spoke up as passionately as ever.

For the regular readers, Barnaby Rudge is a great story. It’s equally moving, thought-provoking, and engaging. As Dickens’s heritage, it’s simply priceless!


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