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A GREAT INTRODUCTION TO DICKENS!

Bizarre Tales:       Charles Dickens

ISBN 9781907091148                                           15.00
Paperback Demy 254 pages 21 illustrations

Bizarre Tales

Dickens is best known for his full-length novels, a fact which makes his short stories all the more interesting. They have tended to  become overlooked beneath the shadow of the heavyweights that everyone knows about.

Dickens's short stories in this edition include:

The Trial for Murder, a tale of supernatural events which help to bring a murderer to justice: the ghost of the murdered man who haunted the foreman of the jury and seemed to be present during the trial, and the weird premonition of the murderer. The Signalman, who experienced ghostly premonitions of a fatal train accident which seemed due to take place, and which turned out to be predicting his own death. The Death of a Drunkard, describing the degradation of a neglectful father, and the downward spiral which culminated in his death by drowning in the Thames. The Black Veil, about a mysterious heavily veiled woman who comes to see a young doctor about the death of a loved one although that death had not yet taken place. The victim was her son, who had been imprisoned for murder and was duly hanged, his body handed back to his mother, slowly being driven insane with grief and shame. Finally, there is a long excerpt from The Haunted Man, where the author himself confronts his own special demon.

The Pickwick Papers was one of Dickens' first fictional works, written and published as a serial story in monthly parts. The theme running through these episodes was a debating or corresponding society run by Mr Samuel Pickwick, the society members presenting varied reports which in themselves amount to short stories. The best of these are given here. There is The Whimsical Tale of Gabriel Grub, about a curmudgeonly old grave-digger who has an encounter with goblins who make him see the error of his ways. A Madman and the Mysterious Stone: an old manuscript apparently written by a crazed murderer, and Mr Pickwick's discovery of a piece of paving stone engraved with mysterious characters, which baffled the best brains (though strongly suspected to be totally phoney).  The Bath Legend and Mr Winkle's Dilemma, a flight of fancy about the health spa of Bath, and the hilarious but humiliating experience of one of Mr Pickwick's companions. Legal Ghosts and a Dreadful Revenge, Ghostly occurrences in London's old Legal Inns. The Story of the Ghostly Mail Coach, a somewhat tipsy man stops to examine a yard-full of old coaches, when the scene comes to life, transporting him back to an  earlier age and a hair-raising experience.

Sample Pages

Contents

The Whimsical Tale of Gabriel Grub ......................... 6

A Madman and the Mysterious Stone........................26

The Bath legend and Mr. Winkle's dilemma..............61

Legal Ghosts and a Dreadful Revenge......................84

The Story of the Ghostly Mail Coach......................118

The Trial for Murder................................................151

The Signalman.........................................................172

Death of a Drunkard................................................198

The BlackVeil..........................................................220

The Haunted Man....................................................242

The Whimsical Tale of Gabriel Grub

IN an old abbey town, down in this part of the country, a long, long while ago so long, that the story must be a true one, because our great-grandfathers implicitly believed it there officiated as sexton and grave-digger in the churchyard, one Gabriel Grub. It by no means follows that because a man is a sexton, and constantly surrounded by the emblems of mortality, therefore he should be a morose and melancholy man; your undertakers are the merriest fellows in the world; and I once had the honour of being on intimate terms with a mute, who in private life, and off duty, was as comical and jocose a little fellow as ever chirped out a devil-may-care song, without a hitch in his memory, or drained off a good stiff glass without stopping for breath. But notwithstanding these precedents to the contrary, Gabriel Grub was an ill-conditioned, cross-grained, surly fellow a morose and lonely man, who consorted with nobody but himself, and an old wicker bottle which fitted into his large deep waistcoat pocket and who eyed each merry face, as it passed him by, with such a deep scowl of malice and ill-humour, as it was difficult to meet without feeling something the worse for.

A Few of the 21 Illustrations

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