Fully entitled "Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty," this novel was Dickens' first attempt at a historical novel. As such, it is the precursor to his more famous "A Tale of Two Cities," in which his exploration of mob violence, and especially the effect of public events on individual lives, becomes apparent. This work centers on Barnaby Rudge, a mentally simple son, and his loving mother, who are a part of the small village of Epping Forest, just outside of London. This community displays both ties of enmity and love between its members, but all is threatened when the misguided Lord George Gordon arrives in the village with his followers. Their lives are disrupted and caught up in riots that incite destruction in London. This tangle of events leads to misunderstandings that wrongly sentence Barnaby to mount the scaffold. The climactic conclusion of the novel attests to Dickens' early skill as a writer and makes "Barnaby Rudge" a worthy part of his body of works.
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January 01, 2013
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