Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty (commonly known as
Barnaby Rudge) is an historical novel by the author Charles Dickens. Published between 1840 and 1841, it is Dickens' first attempt at an historical novel, his only other being
A Tale of Two Cities. Full of classic Dickensian characters, the plot is based on the "no-popery" or Gordon riots of 1780 seen through the eyes of the good-hearted idiot Barnaby Rudge.
Charles Dickens (1812 - 9 June 1870) is arguably the greatest novelist England ever produced.
Please note: This is a vintage recording. The audio quality may not be up to modern day standards.
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"Men of capacity plot in secrecy and safety, and leave exposed posts to the duller wits"
The large cast of characters in Barnaby Rudge does require an exceptional reader and this version has a wonderful narrator. He has an amazing range of voices to cover the high whine of Miggs, the croak of Grip the Raven, the elegant drawl of Sir John, and the street slang of the London poor.
It is an odd, lop-sided book. The first thirty-one chapters are thumbnail sketches of the main fictional characters. Chapter 32 of 82 places these characters in 1780, the year the real London endured some of its bloodiest riots ever. That lets Dickens show us mob behaviour through the eyes of all his characters, not just the simple-minded Barnaby Rudge. Be warned that Dickens aims to shock: this is not Little Nell expiring sweetly in bed.
I have never seen a favourable review of Barnaby Rudge, which is a pity. Dickens aimed to show us how “men of capacity plot in secrecy and safety, and leave exposed posts to the duller wits”.
Like a trip back in time
This is a fabulous book. Dickens was an absolutely phenomenal author and the reading is excellent. There are a few slip-ups, but it reminds me of being read to by a loving family member as a child - of course everyone stumbles occasionally, but it just adds a bit of character to the reading, and it doesn't detract from the reading. The story is colorful and everyone is described in such loving detail that it's as though I were being read to from a first person account of the events.