My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is Dickens fifth novel and it was his first attempt to write a historical novel and was inspired by the Walter Scott‘s novels.
In the first chapters, Dickens describes the Maypole and introduces the main characters: Gabriel Varden with his wife and his daughter, Simon Tappertit, John and Joe Willet, Solomon Daisy, the Haredales, the Rudges and a mysterious stranger.
Maypole Inn in the village of Chigwell:
A hint of mystery is also inserted in these initial chapters through the Haredale murder. And a black raven gives a gothic touch into the narrative. Just to remind that a black raven has a special meaning in literature.
It seems that “Barbaby Rudge” was published first in Dickens’s weekly journal Master Humphrey’s Clock in 1841.
In some editions, the original tittle of this book was “Gabriel Vardon, the Locksmith of London.”
One you start to read the description of the Gordon Riots, you won’t be able to stop to read this book.
The despisers of mankind–apart from the mere fools and mimics, of that creed–are of two sorts. They who believe their merit neglected and unappreciated, make up one class; they who receive adulation and flattery, knowing their own worthlessness, compose the other. Be sure that the coldest-hearted misanthropes are ever of this last order.
So do the shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed.
In the exhaustless catalogue of Heaven’s mercies to mankind, the power we have of finding some germs of comfort in the hardest trials must ever occupy the foremost place…
‘All good friends to our cause, I hope will be particular, and do no injury to the property of any true Protestant. I am well assured that the proprietor of this house is a staunch and worthy friend to the cause. GEORGE GORDON.’
The great mass never reasoned or thought at all, but were stimulated by their own headlong passions, by poverty, by ignorance, by the love of mischief, and the hope of plunder.
The historical description of the Gordon Riots can be found at:
A TV series was made based on this magnificent book:
An interesting historical reference: The Gordon Riots: Politics, Culture and Insurrection in Late Eighteenth-Century Britain by Ian Haywood and John Seed.
- Dickens Project (mansfieldseastroom.wordpress.com)
- Doing Dickens – Part 7 (thepenguinblog.typepad.com)