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Rezension: ... If in any doubt, consult 'The Companion to "Great Expectations"' by David Paroissien, an extraordinary behind-the-scenes tour of Dickens's novel ... TLS Paroissien's passion for finding the illuminating detail and for getting the detail right is evident. ... readers will find Paroissien's companionship rich in research and of breath-taking fullness. -- Patrick MacCarthy Dickens List-Serv (online) Thorough, well-considered, clear, incisive and complete, the Companion to 'Great Expectations' gives readers everything needed for its full appreciation. It is a comprehensive and enjoyable work of reference and scholarhip about Dickens as well as the novel, precisely mapped and illustrated. It takes the student through the novel's origins, completion, dense allusions, and what Graham Greene calls its 'secret prose'. We are shown it directly: written about an earlier period and addressed to its time. -- K. J. Fielding The main aim of the 'Companions' series to Dickens novels (formerly published by Unwin Hyman) is to provide much more detailed factual and discursive annotations to the texts of Dickens's fifteen novels than traditional editions usually provide, and Paroissien's knowledgeable commentary (over 400 pages of it) achieves this admirably. The annotations are clearly keyed to the Norton text of Great Expectations, edited by Edgar Rosenberg (q. v.), but will function with any modern edition. There is a generous accompaniment of illustrations and maps to support the annotations and three geographical appendices, which, as Paroissien explains in a helpful introduction (1-14), are important because Dickens's 'compelling topographical verisimilitude' in the novel arises from his having based the novel on worlds he had known from childhood: 'the Hoo peninsula of north-east Kent, the city of Rochester ...and the various London locales that appear' (7). Two other appendices offer information about the complex chronology of the action ('The Sequence of Events in Pip's Narrative') and dates and statistics cocerning the 'Serial Instalments in 'All The Year Round', the weekly magazine in which the novel was originally published. The book will be particularly useful to those who teach 'Great Expectations' as a set text, and who need to field all manner of questions relating to the Victorian way of life and Dickens's use of slang, topical references, literary allusion, and so forth. It is a mine of interesting information in its own right, scrupulously sourced, and read in conjunction with the novel, will prove a valuable corrective to the tendency to over-theorise readings of the text, at the expense of understanding its socio-historical context. -- John Drew ABES The book will be particularly useful to those who teach 'Great Expectations' as a set text, and who need to field all manner of questions relating to the Victorian way of life and Dickens's use of slang, topical references, literary allusion, and so forth. It is a mine of interesting information in its own right, scrupulously sourced, and read in conjunction with the novel, will prove a valuable corrective to the tendency to over-theorise readings of the text, at the expense of understanding its socio-historical context. -- John Drew ABES David Paroissien, editeur du Dickens Quarterly et de la serie "The Dickens Companions", nous offre, a la suite de son Companion to Oliver Twist, un travail remarquable sur Great Expectations. II aura sa place comme /uvre de reference indispensable a toute etude approfondie du roman, qu'elle soit linguistique, post-structuraliste ou histonque, dans les bibliographies dignes de ce nom. Dans ses 506 pages, rien n'est superflu. Se manifestent une erudition minutieuse ainsi qu'une large panoplie d'approches critiques victorianistes. Phrases, expressions et noms propres sont passes au crible de fines analyses, comme celle qui tente d'eclairer la celebre (et tres ambigue) derniere phrase du roman : "I saw the shadow of no parting from her". Les variantes de cette phrase sont etudiees afin de peser la signification de chaque changement opere par Dickens. Le travail d'un critique est cite pour expliquer l'elimination des mots "but one", originellement rajoutes en fin de phrase : "that last chord [was] a needlessly distracting obtrusion on an already long and moving sentence, which reaches its appropriate climax in the parting words to which the cadences lead up. Possibly, too, he objected to the mawkishness of the phrase or, more emphatically, refused to end the novel on a quasi-religious note" D. Paroissien fournit ensuite un extrait de la fin de Eugene Aram qui ressemble a celle que Dickens a finalement choisie sur les conseils de Bulwer Lytton. Cette volonte de s'ouvrir aux textes contemporains et anciens et d'etablir des liens est typique de l'ouvrage. L'introduction fait preuve de cette meme volonte. II convient, pour finir, de citer un exemple de l'onomastique qu'offre Paroissien dans cet ouvrage et qui constitue un outil precieux pour les chercheurs et les etudiants non-anglophones: "JAGGERS: 'Jag,' to pierce or stab, and 'yaeger,' an anglicized version of 'jaeger,' a German or Swiss hunter, have been proposed as possible etymologies for the lawyer's name; 'Jaggers' also appears to combine a pun on the lawyer's sharpness (like a dagger) and on his ability to 'stagger' others with questions and a 'jagged' style of dealing with people (Peacock 400). Compare also two slang terms: 'Jock Gaggers,' nineteenth-century 'Flash' for men who lived on wives or whores, and Hotten's 'JAGGER,a gentleman ...'" Outre cette etymologie detaillee, que sauront apprecier meme les anglophones, on peut evoquer les appendices, les index, les cartes, les illustrations et la bibliographie qui sont de toute premiere qualite et aident le lecteur a naviguer aisement a travers le livre. -- Sara Thornton Etudes anglaises, 53, 4 THE WORLD OF PIP Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, A Norton Critical Edition, Ed. Edgar Rosenberg, New York/ London, W.W. Norton & Co., 1999, pp. xxvi +750, $15. David Paroissien, The Companion to "Great Expectations", Mountfield near Robertsbridge, Helm Information Ltd., 2000, pp. xvi + 506, GBP50... As a natural next stage, that endeavour continues in Paroissien's Companion, which is primarily a companion to the Norton edition of Great Expectations. It bases its commentary upon the Norton text and summarises and often expands upon the salient findings of Rosenberg. While the Norton edition devotes nearly equal attention to the reality contained within the novel (including the manuscripts) and the reality of the world outside, the balance shifts considerably in the Companion. Here almost the entire effort is to situate us in the world of the earliest readers of Great Expectations in order to "restore some sense of how it might have been read in Dickens's time" (p. 10). Reading in this manner (although I have reservations about this) may best facilitate an apprehension of the truth of the story. To reconstruct that historical reality, Paroissien doubles or trebles, beyond Rosenberg's practice, the number of items from the text to receive long annotating commentary. Often we may be surprised by the decision to annotate a passage that would not seem to require commentary at all. But then we find that Paroissien does possess valuable information that unexpectedly enriches our understanding of what we had thought was clear. The commentary sometimes dazzles us in that we come to wonder how Paroissien has managed to learn so much about so many out of the way aspects of the Victorian reality. Apparently his familiarity with that reality equals his familiarity with the reality of our own times. Generally he gives sources for his information, but sometimes the source of his knowledge remains intriguingly mysterious. (How does he know, for example, about the three kinds of "great floating buoys", "conical, spherical and cans" [p. 390]?) An important feature of the reality that he seeks to reconstruct is its topography. Contending that Great Expectations with its strong "sense of place" is Dickens's nearest approach to the "regional novel" (pp. 7-8), he attempts to recover for us the historical actuality of the Dickensian settings. Rochester and the Hoo Peninsula, the London quarters of the Temple and Little Britain, the banks of the Thames also receive extensive attention in appendices. While Dickens accurately reports the characteristics of actual places, however, it proves interesting to notice too where he "necessarily depart[s] from reality". The result manifests a "compromise between the inventive requirements of the novelist and those of the journalist committed to reportage" (p. 437). The blending of "fiction and reality" occurs especially in the invention of "plausible but imaginary names beyond the reach of the most determined source hunter" (440). Besides recovering the spatial features of Dickens's world, Paroissien has worked valiantly to reconstruct the temporal dimension. The chronology of the story has often seemed problematically to involve inconsistencies and anachronisms. Rosenberg has noticed, for example, that at the real historical moment Pip, Herbert and Startop would have been arrested, tried and condemned to prison terms as "accessories after the fact" of Magwitch's crime (p. 461). And in another discussion of the novel's chronology, which gives credit to Rosenberg and others and is reprinted in the Norton edition, Anny Sadrin also finds some "inconsistency", though it is not very serious: "the time-frame [...] is narrower than one would like it to be" (p. 543). Building on her evidence, Paroissien seems then to succeed more fully in the elaboration of a coherent time-frame. His "Hypothetical Chronology" occupies ten pages of an appendix and constitutes an absorbing historical narrative in itself of the datable events significant for the novel - from 1760 (Magwitch's birth) to 1860-1 (Pip's Companion, which is primarily a companion to the Norton edition of Great Expectations. It bases its commentary upon the Norton text and summarises and often expands upon the salient findings of Rosenberg. While the Norton edition devotes nearly equal attention to th...
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