In an article about what inspired her novel, Debt, author Rachel Carey mentions Charles Dickens‘ novels, including Bleak House. Many other authors have cited Bleak House as an inspiration — F. Scott Fitzgerald called it “Dickens’ best novel.” 

In an essay featured in Lectures on Literature, the notoriously critical Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) — the Wellesley and Cornell professor best known as author of Lolita — praises Bleak House from every direction, but mainly focuses on the novel’s atmosphere, which Nabokov views as a character in the book. He also lauds the unusual narration techniques — an omniscient third-person narrator alternating with a first person narrator (a young woman named Esther Summerson — the only female narrator in the Dickens canon).

All we have to do when reading Bleak House is to relax and let our spines take over. Although we read with our minds, the seat of artistic delight is between the shoulder blades. That little shiver is quite certainly the highest form of emotion that humanity has attained when evolving pure art and pure science. Let us worship the spine and its tingle.”


An excellent online version of Bleak House by Charles Dickens, in an easy-to-read, attractive format, is available from Pennsylvania State University here.