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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • January 1999
  • ISBN 978-0-393-96069-3
  • 5.7 × 9.3 in
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

Great Expectations

Norton Critical Editions


Charles Dickens (Author), Edgar Rosenberg (Editor, Cornell University)


This Norton Critical Edition, edited by the pioneer of Great Expectations scholarship, presents the most thorough textual edition of the novel (1861) available.

The newly established text is based on all extant materials and is accompanied by several textual essays.

"Backgrounds" provides readers with an understanding of Great Expectations's inception and internal chronology.  A discussion of the public-reading version of the novel is also included.  A wonderfully rich "Contexts" section collects thirteen pieces, centering on the novel’s major themes: the link between author and hero and, relatedly, Victorian notions of gentility, snobbishness, and social mobility; the often brutal training, at home and at school, of children born around 1800; and the central issues of crime and punishment.

"Criticism" gathers twenty-two assessments of Great Expectations, both contemporary and modern, which offer a range of perspectives on Dickens and his novel.

    The Text of Great Expectations

    1. Adopted Readings
    2. Textual Notes
    3. Launching Great Expectations
    4. Writing Great Expectations
    5. A Note on Dickens’s Working Plans
    6. The Descriptive Headlines
    7. Putting an end to Great Expectations


    1. Dickens’s Letters on Great Expectations
    2. Anny Sadrin, A Chronology of Great Expectations
    3. Jean Callahan, The (Unread) Reading Version of Great Expectations
    4. Harry Stone, The Genesis of a Novel: Great Expectations



    1. James T. Fields, [Dickens among the Tombstones]
    2. Edgar Rosenberg, Dickens in 1861
    3. Humphry House, [Pip’s Upward Mobility]
    4. Robin Gilmour, [The Pursuit of Gentility]


    1. Charles Dickens, [Captain Murderer]
    2. Mrs. Sherwood, [“Naterally Wicious: Many a Moral for the Young”]
    3. The Newcastle Commission, [Dame Schools and Bible Studies]


    1. William Sykes, [On Gibbeting]
    2. Sir Henry Hawkins, [Firing a Rick and Breaking the Sabbath]
    3. Jeremy Bentham, Of Transportation
    4. A Convict’s Recollection of New South Wales


    1. Samuel Richardson, [The Apprentice’s Vade Mecum: A Gloss on George Barnwell]
    2. Henry Fielding, [Hamlet Before Wopsle]



    1. From The Saturday Review, [Dickens”s Comeback]
    2. From The Spectator, [“The Most Successful of His Works Have Been His Most Incoherent”]
    3. Henry Crabb Robinson, [“I Would Rather Read A Good Review of It”]
    4. [E.S. Dallas], [Dickens as a Serial Writer]
    5. From The Dublin University Magazine, [Dickens’s Tiresome Clowning]
    6. [J.M. Capes and J.E.E.D. Acton], [“Dickens Knows Nothing of Sin When It Is Not Crime”]
    7. [Mrs. Oliphant], [“Specimens of Oddity Run Mad”]
    8. George Gissing, [Dickens’s Shrews]


    1. E.M. Forster, [Autumnal England]
    2. Bernard Shaw, Introduction to Great Expectations
    3. George Orwell, Charles Dickens
    4. Humphry House, G.B.S. on Great Expectations
    5. Dorothy Van Ghent, On Great Expectations
    6. Julian Moynahan, The Hero’s Guilt: The Case of Great Expectations
    7. K.J. Fielding, The Critical Autonomy of Great Expectations
    8. Christopher Ricks, Great Expectations
    9. Ian Watt, Oral Dickens
    10. Peter Brooks, Repetition, Repression, and Return: The Plotting of Great Expectations
    11. David Gervais, The Prose and Poetry of Great Expectations
    12. Michal Peled Ginsburg, Dickens and the Uncanny: Repression and Displacement in Great Expectations
    13. Linda Raphael, A Re-Vision of Miss Havisham: Her Expectations and Our Responses
    14. Susan Walsh, Bodies of Capital: Great Expectations and the Climacteric Economy

    Charles Dickens: A Chronology

    Selected Bibliography