Publication Date: October 1991
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The complex story of a notorious law-suit in which love and inheritance are set against the classic urban background of 19th-century London, where fog on the river, seeping into the very bones of the characters, symbolizes the corruption of the legal system and the society which supports it.
“Jarndyce and Jarndyce” is an infamous lawsuit that has been in process for generations. Nobody can remember exactly how the case started but many different individuals have found their fortunes caught up in it. Esther Summerson watches as her friends and neighbours are consumed by their hopes and disappointments with the proceedings. But while the intricate puzzles of the lawsuit are being debated by lawyers, other more dramatic mysteries are unfolding that involve heartbreak, lost children, blackmail and murder.
The fog and cold that permeate Bleak House mirror a Victorian England mired in spiritual insolvency. Dickens brought all his passion, brilliance, and narrative verve to this huge novel of lives entangled in a multi-generational lawsuit—and through it, he achieved, at age 41, a stature almost Shakespearean.
Introduction by Barbara Hardy
Barbara Hardy is a poet, autobiographer and novelist, as well as a critic whose books include three on George Eliot and three on Dickens. She is Emeritus Professor at Birkbeck, University of London, Honorary Professor of the University of Wales, Swansea, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the British Academy.
“Perhaps Bleak House is his best novel. . . . When Dickens wrote Bleak House he had grown up.” —G. K. Chesterton