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5.0 von 5 Sternen "[...] traffic in Shares is the one thing to have to do with in this world.
Have no antecedents, no established character, no cultivation, no ideas, no manners; have Shares." This is no contemporary character comment on those bankers, stags and scalpers whose insatiable appetite has so strongly disagreed with all our stomachs; this is rather how Charles Dickens describes the social circle of the Veneerings, a prodigious upstart couple, in his...
Veröffentlicht am 6. März 2010 von Tristram Shandy

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Cannot stomach the heroines
Used to love Dickens as a moody teenager, cannot pass up a Masterpiece Theatre costume piece, thought I'd give it a go. Length not an issue, was going to read something anyway, and I committed to finish even though knew from TV how it was going to end, but...those dreadfully Victorian women!! Dickens had dissapontments in his relationship with his wife, I understand,...
Am 17. Juni 1999 veröffentlicht


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5.0 von 5 Sternen "[...] traffic in Shares is the one thing to have to do with in this world., 6. März 2010
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Have no antecedents, no established character, no cultivation, no ideas, no manners; have Shares." This is no contemporary character comment on those bankers, stags and scalpers whose insatiable appetite has so strongly disagreed with all our stomachs; this is rather how Charles Dickens describes the social circle of the Veneerings, a prodigious upstart couple, in his 1864/65 novel "Our Mutual Friend", his last completed novel and one of his deepest works of fiction.

"Our Mutual Friend" tells no less than five stories, of which two shall be briefly touched here. On his death, avaricious Mr. Harmon, who made a fortune collecting and selling urban dust, bequeaths his fortune to his son John on condition that the young man is going to marry Bella Wilfer, a neighbourhood girl. When John Harmon, who, estranged from his tyrannical father, has spent most of his life abroad, returns to England, he falls victim to some criminals and is officially pronounced dead. According to Old Harmon's will the fortune now goes to the Boffins, a couple of simple-minded, yet decent and honest servants, who served the testator for long years. At first the Boffins seem to have some qualms about this pecuniary bliss - they even ask Miss Wilfer to live with them, labouring under the guilty impression that they ruined the young girl's prospects in life -, but by and by Mr. Boffin apparently changes under the influence of his newly-won wealth, becoming just such a mistrustful and hard-hearted miser as his former employer was. One of the victims of his harsh egoism is Mr. Rokesmith, his private secretary, who is actually no other than - the reader gets to know this quite early in the novel - John Harmon, who has luckily escaped the assault on his life and who has not given up his chosen alias in order to put Bella, with whom he has actually fallen in love, to the test.

The other major story centres on Bradley Headstone, a schoolmaster who has worked his own way up from humble beginnings, and Eugene Wrayburn, an unsuccessful and idle lawyer, who become rivals over Lizzie Hexam, the daughter of a man whose occupation it was to fish corpses out of the Thames.

This summary doing but imperfect justice to the complexity of structure and the vast number of characters that are often so typical of Dickens's novels, I am nevertheless not going into further detail here, because mapping the land of Dickens's imagination in "Our Mutal Friend" can surely not be done within the limits of a review.

The novel is extremely rich in symbolic language, the most prominent examples being the mounds of refuse and dust out of which a fortune has been made for the existence of which not one single creature has been any happier; and the river, which flows on as the story proceeds, meaning death and corruption for some of the characters, yet cleansing and re-birth for some others. As is suggested by the first symbol, Dickens, like in many others of his latter-day novels, dwells on the corrupting influence of wealth on the human character: Mr. Boffin, however honest and genial he might have been before his rise to affluence, by degrees discovers his relish for money and his anxiety never to fall back into his old state of indigence. Miss Bella Wilfer, one of the heroines of the novel, was born in conditions of genteel poverty, and it is absolutely clear to her that she will only marry for money in order to lead the life of a lady - Mr. Boffin's change and her feelings for the seemingly impecunious secretary, however, make her reconsider her shallow materialism. Then there is Fledgeby, a greedy money-lender, who is utterly naïve with regard to anything but matters of business. Dickens's sharpest satire, finally, is reserved for the Veeering circle, whose members are mere types without any actual relevance to the story, but who afford Dickens the opportunity of some of his most ingenious sallies against materialism and social conceit, the two main ingredients of Podsnappery.

For modern readers, some few chapters are quite hard to stomach, as they show Dickens at his worst. The story of the pauper lady Betty Higden, for example, rings with melodramatic pathos, and whenever Dickens writes about young love and little babies it is better to leaf forward quickly because it is difficult to believe that the keen satirist and dramatic writer should have been capable of such trite, over-sugared ooze. Another flaw is the character of Lizzie Hexam, who seems to be completely unaffected by the surroundings in which she grew up and who even talks like the gentlest of ladies, whereas all people around her are branded by their sociolect. Nevertheless there is ample compensation for these lapses in the haunting story of Bradley Headstone and Eugene Wrayburn, who are quite ambivalent characters, marking yet another development of Dickens's skill as a writer. Especially Bradstone, disciplined and somewhat slow-witted, who has earned his status by hard labour, until his ungovernable feelings for Lizzie awaken the terrible passions he has always tried to suppress, is one of Dickens's finest achievements. Another instance of the novelist's artistic refinement are the Lammles, two social adventurers, whose marriage has been a misalliance, but who vow to enter into a partnership of convenience in order to eke out their living at the expense of society.

Finally the novel also contains the typical Dickensian oddballs, such as Silas Wegg, a scoundrel with an inclination to poetry, who scorns and plots against his benefactor Boffin as "the minion of fortune and worm of the hour", and the melancholic and lovesick taxidermist Mr. Venus, who loves "floating his powerful mind in tea"; these characters are so full of life and endearing that one almost wishes Mr. Wegg, the "literary man w i t h a wooden leg", had had a better exit than was actually allotted to him.

All in all, it can be said that "Our Mutual Friend" is a clear indication that Dickens's development as an artist was far from being exhausted - if it had not been for his untimely death.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Dickens saved his best heroines for last., 22. Juni 2000
Von Ein Kunde
This is by far Dickens' most mature and engaging work. He always had trouble with heroines, so he was playing with fire by writing two major heroines in one novel. Happily, they are by far his best two. The transformation in Bella has been criticized, but I believe she never loses her individuality or independence--she just loves her man unconditionally. Nothing wrong with that. Lizzie is the most angelic character Dickens ever wrote, even more so than Amy Dorrit. Eugene Wrayburn is one of the most enigmatic and interesting heroes. He starts out like a Steerforth, but has an amazing redemption. Bradley Headstone is perhaps the creepiest character in literature. I also highly recommend the BBC production (shown in the US on Masterpiece theater). It is excellent. I actually would recommend this book for Dickens neophytes. It's impossible to put down.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Dickens' finest (and most "Modern") novel., 30. April 2000
Elusive in a good way, of course. Our Mutual Friend, his last novel, shows some decidedly modernist techniques and situations that were very much ahead of their time. This novel would have been at home if written in, say, the early twentieth century. The twin images of the River and of Garbage (not just decay and dust, but also recycling and renewal) permeate the beginning of this book, and carry through with characters that don't fall into easy categories. All of the requisite Dickensian elements are here, but the reader is also presented with an ending that is both an epiphany and a recognition that the story REALLY doesn't end, after all; storytellers just move onto different subjects. In other words, there isn't the neat bow at the end of the novel that is so prevalent in Victorian literature--one more reason this novel remains somewhat apart from Dickens' other works, while at the same time being a fresh, engaging read. Probably not the best work to begin with, if you're new to Dickens, but if you have the rhythm of his prose down from other, shorter works, you'll certainly enjoy the greater complexities of Our Mutual Friend.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Dickens in absoluter Höchstform, 10. Mai 2010
Wer sich dieser Tage auf die Suche nach einer deutschen Ausgabe von "Unser gemeinsamer Freund" macht, kann sich nicht lange des Eindrucks erwehren, er müsse zum "Friedhof der vergessenen Bücher" nach Barcelona reisen, um noch ein Exemplar ergattern zu können. So gut wie nie findet man eine vollständige Übersetzung, oder beide Bände des Buches. Wie schade dieser Umstand ist, wird der Leser dieser Rezension hoffentlich am Ende diesen Worten entnehmen können.
Mich selbst nun brachte nur ein gerüttelt Maß an Geduld, Glück und Unvernuft in den Besitz der wunderbaren Werkausgabe von Rütten & Loening, die mit den originalen Illustrationen und einer sehr, sehr guten Übersetzung gesegnet ist.

"Unser gemeinsamer Freund" ist Dickens' letzter vollendeter Roman. Und was für ein Roman! Vielschichtig, mitreißend, spannend, geheimnisvoll, bezaubernd, rührend, beinahe auf jeder Seite überzeugend und so aktuell wie nur je. Mit einem Wort: Dieser Roman macht glücklich.

Es ist die verwobene Geschichte John Harmons, der aus der Ferne nach London reist, um hier eine ihm unbekannte Frau zu ehelichen. Der verstorbene Vater Johns hatte diese Partie eingefädelt und zur Bedingung für die Auszahlung einer stattlichen Erbschaft gemacht. Doch John kommt nicht in den Besitz des Vermögens; vielmehr kommt er nur noch in den Genuss, Objekt einer Leichenschau zu werden.
Das Vermögen erben stattdessen die Boffins, ein liebes altes Ehepaar, das dem über alle Maßen geizigen und hartherzigen Vater Harmon sein Leben lang treu gedient hatte. Die Boffins nun ziehen viele weitere handelnde Hauptfiguren auf sich: Mortimer Lightwood als beratenden Anwalt und dessen Freund Eugene Wrayburn (einer der hervorragendsten Charaktere Dickens', wie ich finde), Silas Wegg als Vorleser, Bella Wilfer, die designierte Mrs. Harmon, als Trostempfänger und Hätschelkind und nicht zuletzt den geheimnisvollen John Rokesmith, der sich Mr. Boffin als Sekretär anempfielt. Darum herum gruppiert Dickens noch etliche weitere Charaktere (insgesamt sind es beinahe 40!), und gibt ihnen den Anschein, nichts oder kaum etwas miteinander zu tun zu haben. Und am packenden, mit Eifersucht, Hass und Mord und Totschlag gewürzten, Finale sind sie doch alle miteinander verknüpft. Und der Leser ist um mannigfache Glücksmomente reicher.

Ich möchte gar nicht weiter auf den kunstfertig verwobenen, aber nie verworrenen, Plot eingehen. Ich möchte aber noch hinzufügen: Vieles hier ist nicht wie es scheint, auch die augenscheinlich offensichtlichen Täuschungsmanöver Dickens' sind viel gewiefter als mancher anfangs denken könnte.

Aber nicht nur aus diesem Grunde lohnt die Lektüre dieses Buches so sehr. Auch die Anspielungen auf die "feine Gesellschaft", die Dickens mit spitzer Feder seziert, sind eine Klasse für sich, ganz abgesehen von den erstaunlich aktuellen Ansichten des Unnachahmlichen über das Börsenwesen und die Spekulanten. Ich zitiere: "Der reife junge Herr ist ein Herr mit Vermögen. Er legt sein Vermögen an. Er geht unbelastet als Laie in die City, besucht Sitzungen von Direktoren und hat mit Aktienhandel zu tun. Wie den Klugen dieser Generation wohlbekannt ist, ist der Handel mit Aktien das einzige, womit man sich in dieser Welt zu befassen hat. Haben Sie keine Voraussetzungen, keinen festen Charakter, keine Bildung, keine Ideen, keine Manieren - haben Sie Aktien! Haben Sie genügend Aktien, um in großen Lettern in Börsenblättern zu stehen, pendeln Sie in undurchsichtigen Geschäftangelegenheiten zwischen London und Paris, und seien Sie groß! - Woher kommt er? Von der Börse. Wohin geht er? Zur Börse. Woran findet er gefallen? An Aktien. Hat er irgendwelche Grundsätze? Aktien. Was presst ihn ins Parlament hinein? Aktien. Vielleicht hatte er nirgends von sich aus Erfolg, brachte er nie etwas hervor, schaffte gar nichts! Ausreichende Antwort darauf: Aktien. Oh allmächtige Aktien! Um solche plärrenden Idealbilder so hoch zu stellen, und uns zu niederem Ungeziefer zu machen wie unter der Wirkung von Bilsenkraut oder Opium, um Tag und Nacht zu rufen: "Befreie uns von unserem Geld, zerstreue es für uns, kaufe und verkaufe uns, ruiniere uns, nur, wir flehen dich an, reihe dich bei den Mächten der Erde ein und mäste dich an uns!"
Der Titel des Romans bezieht sich denn auch vor allem auf das Geld als solches, denn jenes ist es, was alle handelnden Figuren miteinander verknüpft.

Überdies bleibt festzuhalten, dass Dickens nach seiner regelrecht antisemitischen Figur Fagin in Oliver Twist, mit dem Juden Mr. Riah einiges an Wiedergutmachung zuwege gebracht hat. Dennoch gibt es auch in diesem Roman wieder einige marginale Schwachpunkte: die allzu idealisierte Betty Higden oder die allzu kluge Analphabetin Lizze Hexam. Alles in allem aber ist "Our Mutual Friend" schlichtweg brillant, zumal sich auch Dickens' Frauenbild sehr zum Vorteil gewandelt hat: Eine dumme kleine Dora sucht man hier vergebens, stattdessen gibt es die überaus schillernde Persönlichkeit der kleinen, lahmen, aber ungebrochenen Puppenschneiderin Jenny Wren oder die sehr überraschende der Bella Wilfer. Überhaupt, diese Charaktere! Kaum je hat Dickens so eindrückliche MENSCHEN geschaffen, neben all seinen üblichen Käuzen und Spinnern. Und wie viel Leben in diesem Stück Fiktion steckt! Man meint, man kenne Lizzie Hexam und Eugene wie gute Freunde, rieche den stinkenden Hut Riderhoods und das staubige Knochenkabinett Mr. Venus', höre das Klopfen des Holzbeins Mr. Weggs und das gezierte Geschnattere Lady Tippins'. Ich wiederhole mich gern wenn ich schreibe: Mit einem Wort: Dieser Roman macht glücklich.

Um so tragischer, dass der antiquarische Weg wohl auf lange Sicht der einzige bleiben wird, an dieses wunderbare Buch heranzukommen: Die Klassikerverlage Winkler und Manesse jedenfalls haben mir per Email auf Anfrage mitgeteilt, dass sie für eine Neu-Veröffentlichung keine Chance sehen...
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5.0 von 5 Sternen An engaging novel, 10. März 2000
Von Ein Kunde
The last of Charles Dickens's completed novels, "Our Mutual Friend" is an amalgamation of social themes that the author has already discussed in other works like "Great Expectations." Yet somehow, the author manages to invest them with a peculiar power in this final work, while still maintaining the comic and even grotesque elements that made his early works so popular. It is also the novel in which there there remains only a murky distinction between the heroes and the villains, each of whom becomes both likeable and repulsive in turn. And throughout the novel are the wonderful symbols of the dust heaps, of the Thaimes river, of life, money, death, destruction, and resurrection. I recommed the Penguin addition, which has Dickens's carefully planned out working notes for the novel.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Dickens at his best, 19. Dezember 1999
Von 
When i was younger i used to be wary of the sheer length of such works-never fear!Not for one moment was this masterpiece a chore in any way.Ive read 300 page books which were twice as hard to get through.If you appreciate classic literature,especially Dickens this is one of those novels that is a pure pleasure simply to get back to-youll anticipate the start of your next reading session. While there may be a slight criticism of the realness or believability of some of the main characters(esp. the female ones)they are individual enough to rise above the stereotypes one may at first feel they conform to.No doubt Dickens created his own 'Dickensian' universe where the characters may not be as bare boned and raw in terms of reality as more modern writers(reviewers comment that his readership were tiring of his style in favour of more naturalist writers like George Eliot around 1860's)but within the confines of the writers world the book works wonderfully well.No matter what the subject or mood and however dark they may be there is always an exquisite brand of humour,a biting sarcastic tongue-in-cheek commentary running through Dickens writing and none so more than in Our Mutual Friend.If your reading this or others of his novels and you are not laughing then you are just NOT GETTING IT!While he uses hyperbole often in his tales there is here plenty of poignant social commentary.There is also a dark thread permeating the story which acts as a good contrast to the humour and it is through this darkness that the best lessons are learned,the best points are made. The plot is very very involved and works for the most part although one has the impression Dickens may have changed dramatically a particular storyline at the end.It is written in the unusual style in that he intentionally hints and prods the reader to a certain conclusion early on,then not much later reveals the mystery-which i think worked well. Lastly i have just watched the new BBC production of this book and as much as tv can capture this it does very well but whatever you do read the book first(the tv series while of quality must intrinsically be inferior-it will really detract from the book).Never once was this book a task and ive now promised myself to read his entire set of works-so take up this book-you wont regret it!
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Dickens at his best, 21. Juli 1999
Von Ein Kunde
When i was younger i used to be wary of the sheer length of such works-never fear!Not for one moment was this masterpiece a chore in any way.Ive read 300 page books which were twice as hard to get through.If you appreciate classic literature,especially Dickens this is one of those novels that is a pure pleasure simply to get back to-youll anticipate the start of your next reading session. While there may be a slight criticism of the realness or believability of some of the main characters(esp. the female ones)they are individual enough to rise above the stereotypes one may at first feel they conform to.No doubt Dickens created his own 'Dickensian' universe where the characters may not be as bare boned and raw in terms of reality as more modern writers(reviewers comment that his readership were tiring of his style in favour of more naturalist writers like George Eliot around 1860's)but within the confines of the writers world the book works wonderfully well.No matter what the subject or mood and however dark they may be there is always an exquisite brand of humour,a biting sarcastic tongue-in-cheek commentary running through Dickens writing and none so more than in Our Mutual Friend.If your reading this or others of his novels and you are not laughing then you are just NOT GETTING IT!While he uses hyperbole often in his tales there is here plenty of poignant social commentary.There is also a dark thread permeating the story which acts as a good contrast to the humour and it is through this darkness that the best lessons are learned,the best points are made. The plot is very very involved and works for the most part although one has the impression Dickens may have changed dramatically a particular storyline at the end.It is written in the unusual style in that he intentionally hints and prods the reader to a certain conclusion early on,then not much later reveals the mystery-which i think worked well. Lastly i have just watched the new BBC production of this book and as much as tv can capture this it does very well but whatever you do read the book first(the tv series while of quality must intrinsically be inferior-it will really detract from the book).Never once was this book a task and ive now promised myself to read his entire set of works-so take up this book-you wont regret it!
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5.0 von 5 Sternen This is my favorite novell., 21. Juli 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Some may say that it is one of Dickens' darkest novels, but I only see the humor and the intricacy. This is a novel where he focuses on greed and hypocrisy. The sub-plots are masterfully inter-woven with the main plot (surrounding John Harmon's inheritance) and there is a surprise twist in the end, which makes everything come out blissful. (Like most of Dickens' novels.)
Dickens explores some of the bizarre occupations that might have been found in old London. For example: Dress-Maker for Dolls, Taxidermist/Curator of Human Bones, Street Sales of Ballads and Folk-songs, and (of course) Purchaser/Processor of Garbage (or "Dust").
There are so many examples of brilliant and hilarious stories he uses to illustrate human nature that, to begin to list them (which I could) would not do them justice.
Sure, there may be some dark subjects, but that is part of Dickens' creativity and therefore part of this masterpiece--full of intrigue and dark humor. My all! -time favorite novel.
Note: The Penguin edition always has good notes at the back of the book to explain dated references.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Cannot stomach the heroines, 17. Juni 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Used to love Dickens as a moody teenager, cannot pass up a Masterpiece Theatre costume piece, thought I'd give it a go. Length not an issue, was going to read something anyway, and I committed to finish even though knew from TV how it was going to end, but...those dreadfully Victorian women!! Dickens had dissapontments in his relationship with his wife, I understand, so perhaps he consoled himself with idiot idealizations of baby/women. But how a 1999 reader could root for the 1860's Bella...yuck! Playing with her father's hair and him called a cherub & etc., what must the real man Rumty Wilfer have felt, for goodness sake. Even taken on their own terms, which we really cannot do however academic our empathy may be, all is lugubrious. And yet, and yet, for the few moments of real sensibilty and the many of broad farce, I suppose I must always regard Mr. Dickens well and recommend him to young people. I, however, will fade off from his readership. Will order Lorna Doone, another read from my tender years.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Most Realistic of Dickens' works!, 25. September 1999
I have always loved Dickens since I first entered the world of Pip in a 9th grade English class. I have read many of his works in the twenty years since, and I just finished this novel last week. Although "David Copperfield" remains my favorite, "Our Mutual Friend" amazed me with its intricate plot and how Dickens pulled off such jarring tonal shifts without alienating the reader. I disagree with other readers who still found Bella Wilfer one-dimensional and unsympathetic...I was very caught up in her transformation. I also think that Bradley Headstone is one of the scariest of Dickens' villains, even surpassing Mr. Murdstone. I wish that I had not seen last year's TV production before reading the novel. Although the production was quality, I would have liked to approach the work with a fresher perspective.
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