The Pickwick Papers: The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (Paperback)
In Charles Dickens’ first (and, I find, most endearing) book, we follow
the ludicrous Mr. Pickwick and friends as they ramble about England
to “observe things” for the club that they are a part of. Along the way
they meet up with the quintessential Dickensian array of insane
characters. The format of having them wandering about without a clear
purpose besides observation really gives Dickens the chance to stretch
his legs comedically. hilarious, even for Dicken, though it is equally
wise. I would not recommend it on that basis alone. It contains some of
his best social commentary, a thing which he became well known for,
mocking a decadent aristocratic class that is just a blown up version of
those we see today.
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (also known as The Pickwick Papers) was Charles Dickens's first novel. He was asked to contribute to the project as an up-and-coming writer following the success of Sketches by Boz, published in 1836 (most of Dickens' novels were issued in shilling instalments before being published as complete volumes). Dickens (still writing under the pseudonym of Boz) increasingly took over the unsuccessful monthly publication after the original illustrator Robert Seymour had committed suicide. With the introduction of Sam Weller in chapter 10, the book became the first real publishing phenomenon, with bootleg copies, theatrical performances, Sam Weller joke books, and other merchandise. After the publication, the widow of Robert Seymour claimed that the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any specific input, writing that "Mr Seymour never originated or suggested an incident, a phrase, or a word, to be found in the book.