Jack Maggs

Jack Maggs

Book - 1998
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Publisher: Bath, Engl. : Chivers, 1998.
ISBN: 9780754011866
0754011860

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d
distractible
Jul 20, 2016

I usually love Carey's novels, but I picked this up and put it down having read only the first chapter. Then, coincidentally, I decided to revisit Great Expectations. In my copy, there was additional information about the book and stories inspired by it, and Jack Maggs was mentioned. So having finished Great Expectations, I returned to Jack Maggs, and this time found it much more compelling. Because I had just been immersed in Dickens' world, the world of Jack Maggs now felt very familiar and very vivid. I think the best way to approach this story is fresh off a reading of Great Expectations!

FindingJane Jul 29, 2014

It is strange how the passage of time can alter perception, can cast a new light on what we thought was a firm and fixed memory. The mere turn of two years has brought me to a deep appreciation of this book that I once considered deadly dull.

In my initial consideration, the fault lay with the titular character. Jack Maggs reveals himself at the very onset as a scoundrel, one equally prone to mild, constant deception and capable of vile murder. His character is laid out in the author’s prose so quickly that there is little room for any other interpretation of him—and characters that are shown at the outset to be absolute villains are as boring as those who are complete saints. Such was my assessment of Jack Maggs when I first read about him and therefore I couldn’t bring myself to read more than the first chapter. I laid aside the book—forever, I thought.

However, as time wore on, the incomplete reading gnawed at me, as any uncompleted urgent chore will worry the mind of someone who is given to finish any welcome task. Thus, steeling myself to the business, I determined to finish.

What I found was a revelation. England is revealed in all her nature, from the grime to the glitter, from wealth to poverty. Her many peoples dance across the pages as Mr. Carey fills them in, either with in-depth probing or the quick sketchings of a street artist. In doing so, he brings to life one of fiction’s most enigmatic personages, one who becomes a catalyst in the life of another.

I was more than 200 pages into the novel when the revelation of this “personality” struck me. I experienced then the wild glee of any bibliophile who ever read a book and wanted to shout “AHA! I SEE IT!” It was as though the author himself stood by my side, having led me by winding but sure paths to this point, and smiled at me, pleased that one of his readers should grasp his point.

This revelation is so good, so titillating to the true literature buff that I refuse to spoil it here. Let anyone who seeks to probe this mystery read the book. It is supremely worthy of the effort.

h
Hadley
Jan 07, 2008

An earthy and compelling rejigging of Dickens' Great Expectations, with a wonderful cast of characters.

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h
Hadley
Jan 07, 2008

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FavouriteFiction Oct 03, 2009

Based on a character from the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

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h
Hadley
Jan 07, 2008

It was a Saturday night when the man with the red waistcoat arrived in London. It was to be precise, six of the clock on Saturday the fifteenth of April in the year of 1837 that those hooded eyes looked out of the window of the Dover coach and beheld, in the bright aura of gas light, a golden bull and an overgrown mouth opening to devour him - the sign of his inn, The Golden Ox.

The Rocket (as his coach was aptly named) rattled in through the archway to the inn's yard and the passengers, who had hitherto found the stranger so taciturn, now noted the silver-capped cane - which had begun to tap the floor at Westminster Bridge - commence a veritable tattoo.

He was a tall man in his forties, so big in the chest and broad in the shoulder that his fellows on the bench seat had felt the strain of his presence, but what his occupation was, or what he planned to do in London, they had not the least idea.

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