What’s Nicholas Nickleby about?

The long and involved novel was published in parts between 1838 and 1839. It tells the story of a family left destitute by the death of their father, Mr Nickleby. Nicholas, his mother and his sister, turn in desperation to his uncle, Ralph Nickleby, who proves to be a disreputable tyrant.

Angered by Nicholas’ rebellious spirit, Ralph sends him to work as a schoolmaster at Dotheboys Hall, a brutal Yorkshire school run by the evil Wackford Squeers. Nicholas is appalled by the treatment of the school’s orphans, in particular a frail and simple-mined boy called Smike. After giving Squeers a taste of his own medicine in the form of a severe thrashing, Nicholas and Smike run away from the school and join a troupe of travelling entertainers.

Meanwhile, in London, Uncle Ralph is planning to deliver his niece into the clutches of the despicable Sir Mulberry Hawk. News of his plan reaches Nicholas, who returns to London to rescue his sister and make a home for her and their mother. Smike dies of consumption and is revealed as the son of Ralph Nickleby. The disgraced uncle hangs himself; justice is done; and the Nickleby family finds tranquility at last.


2. Translate idioms, word-combinations, words: shrewd, to account (for), to back up, a witness, to trace, in board daylight, thud, urgent, to deal (with), to come up.

Shrewd – проникливий

to account (for) – рахувати

to back up – підтримувати, давати задній хід

a witness - свідок

to trace - стежити

in board daylight

thud – глухий стукіт

urgent – терміновий, невідкладний, черговий (лікар)

to deal (with) – укладати угоду, мати справу

to come up – придумувати, вигадувати


1. Speak and write about: Charles Dickens “Oliver Twist”.

Oliver Twist, subtitled The Parish Boy's Progress, is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan, Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Naïvely unaware of their unlawful activities, Oliver is led to the lair of their elderly criminal trainer Fagin.

Oliver Twist is notable for Dickens's unromantic portrayal of criminals and their sordid lives. The book exposed the cruel treatment of the many orphans in London during the Dickensian era. The book's subtitle, The Parish Boy's Progress, alludes to Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress and also to a pair of popular 18th-century caricature series by William Hogarth, A Rake's Progress and A Harlot's Progress.

An early example of the social novel, the book calls the public's attention to various contemporary evils, including child labour, the recruitment of children as criminals, and the presence of street children. Dickens mocks the hypocrisies of his time by surrounding the novel's serious themes with sarcasm and dark humour. The novel may have been inspired by the story of Robert Blincoe, an orphan whose account of hardships as a child labourer in a cotton mill was widely read in the 1830s. It is likely that Dickens's own early youth as a child labourer contributed to the story's development.

Oliver Twist has been the subject of numerous film and television adaptations, and is the basis for a highly successful musical play and the multiple Academy Award winning 1968 motion picture made from it.

Oliver Twist was born into a life of poverty and misfortune in a workhouse in an unnamed town (although when originally published in Bentley's Miscellany in 1837 the town was called Mudfog and said to be within 70 miles north of London – in reality this is the location of the town of Northampton). Orphaned almost from his first breath by his mother's death in childbirth and his father's unexplained absence, Oliver is meagerly provided for under the terms of the Poor Law, and spends the first nine years of his life at a baby farm in the 'care' of a woman named Mrs. Mann. Oliver is brought up with little food and few comforts. Around the time of Oliver's ninth birthday, Mr. Bumble, the parish beadle, removes Oliver from the baby farm and puts him to work picking oakum at the main workhouse. Oliver, who toils with very little food, remains in the workhouse for six months. One day, the desperately hungry boys decide to draw lots; the loser must ask for another portion of gruel. The task falls to Oliver, who at the next meal tremblingly comes up forward, bowl in hand, and makes his famous request: "Please, sir, I want some more".

A great uproar ensues. The board of well-fed gentlemen who administer the workhouse hypocritically offer five pounds to any person wishing to take on the boy as an apprentice. A brutal chimney sweep almost claims Oliver. However, when he begs despairingly not to be sent away with "that dreadful man", a kindly old magistrate refuses to sign the indentures. Later, Mr. Sowerberry, an undertaker employed by the parish, takes Oliver into his service. He treats Oliver better, and because of the boy's sorrowful countenance, uses him as a mourner at children's funerals. However, Mr. Sowerberry is in an unhappy marriage, and his wife takes an immediate dislike to Oliver – primarily because her husband seems to like him – and loses few opportunities to underfeed and mistreat him. He also suffers torment at the hands of Noah Claypole, an oafish but bullying fellow apprentice and "charity boy" who is jealous of Oliver's promotion to mute, and Charlotte, the Sowerberrys' maidservant, who is in love with Noah.

While attempting to bait Oliver, Noah insults Oliver's biological mother, calling her "a regular right-down bad 'un". Oliver flies into a rage, attacking and even beating the much bigger boy. Mrs. Sowerberry takes Noah's side, helps him to subdue, punch, and beat Oliver, and later compels her husband and Mr. Bumble, who has been sent for in the aftermath of the fight, to beat Oliver again. Once Oliver is sent to his room for the night, he does something that he had not done since babyhood – he breaks down and weeps. Alone that night, Oliver finally decides to run away, and, "He remembered to have seen the waggons, as they went out, toiling up the hill. He took the same route," until a well-placed milestone sets his wandering feet towards London.

2. Translate idioms, word-combinations, words: incredulity, to reach out, a prosecutor, outright, background, to run errands (for), to snatch, unwitting, a counsel for the defence, to go blind.

Incredulity – недовіра, підозрілість

to reach out – досягати

a prosecutor – прокурор

outright – відвертий, відверто, прямий, прямо

background – задній план

to run errands (for) – на побігеньках

to snatch – вирвати

unwitting – мимовільний

a counsel for the defence – захисник

to go blind – сліпнути


1. Speak and write about: Irving Show “Return to Kansas City” – How do you interpret the title of the story.

2. Translate idioms, word-combinations, words: to be color blind, to adjust, to set a trap, to lean forward, to get oneself into trouble, to estimate, to divorce, alert, in the vicinity, an acquittal.

to be color blind – дальтонік

to adjust – регулювати, настроювати, підганяти

to set a trap – встановлювати пастку

to lean forward – нахилятися вперед

to get oneself into trouble

to estimate – оцінювати

to divorce – розлучатися

alert – тривога

in the vicinity – недалеко, поблизу

an acquittal – виправдувальний вирок


1. Speak and write about: F. Scott Fitzgerald “Babylon Revisited” – What was Paris like before the crisis and after it?

F. Scott Fitzgerald is an American author most famous for his 1925 novel The Great Gatsby. However, Fitzgerald was also an avid short story writer, publishing dozens of short stories in magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post. The most famous of these are, among others, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz," " The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," and at the top of critics' lists everywhere, the 1931 "Babylon Revisited."

"Babylon Revisited" is the story of a Charlie Wales, a former drunken party-goer who returns to Paris, the site of his former 1920s debauchery, shortly after the stock market crash of 1929. Charlie sees his world with new (sober) eyes and is both shocked and appalled by the extravagance that characterized his former life. The story is rooted in the financial crisis of its times. Fitzgerald wrote the piece in December of 1930, when the good times of the Jazz Age (also called the "Roaring Twenties") had come to an end and America was headed into the Great Depression. Charlie's horror with his own former waste and self-destruction is Fitzgerald's condemnation of a society who drank away the '20s.

"Babylon Revisited" is also a criticism of Fitzgerald's own participation in the party that lasted a decade. (Fitzgerald's fast-lane lifestyle epitomized his generation of Jazz Age party-goers.) He wrote in a letter to his editor that he "announced the birth of [his] young illusions in This Side of Paradise, but pretty much the death of them in […] stories like 'Babylon Revisited'" (source: Matthew Joseph Bruccoli and Scottie Fitzgerald Smith, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur).

Because of the connections to Fitzgerald's own life, many critics have looked in painstaking detail at the autobiographical elements of "Babylon Revisited." Like main character Charlie Wales, Fitzgerald was in a tumultuous and tabloid-ready marriage that was destructive to both him and his wife, Zelda. Fitzgerald also admitted to basing the character of Charlie's estranged daughter, Honoria, on his own daughter Scottie. For more details, check "Genre," where we discuss the biographical elements of the work.

If you're not hooked yet, you should know that "Babylon Revisited" is largely considered the height of Fitzgerald's short story collection. Or, in the words of several Fitzgerald scholars:

"'Babylon Revisited' stands as Fitzgerald's one virtually flawless contribution to the canon of the short story." (source: John Higgins, F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Study of the Stories, St. John's University Press, 1971)

"'Babylon Revisited' [stands as] Fitzgerald's best story." (source: Herbie Butterfield, "'All Very Rich and Sad': A Decade of Fitzgerald Short Stories" in Scott Fitzgerald: The Promises of Life, edited by Robert Lee. St. Martin's Press, 1989)

"Babylon Revisited [is] a beautifully executed story without a single false note, and […] one of the great modern short stories." (source: Arthur Voss, The American Short Story: A Critical Survey. University of Oklahoma Press, 1975)

2. Translate idioms, word-combinations, words: to snore, serene, to sniff, to weep, to wrinkle, to take a nap, to watch pennies, stingy, obstinately, to store up, tought.

to snore – хропіти

serene – безтурботний, лагідний, спокійний

to sniff – нюхати

to weep – плакати

to wrinkle – морщитися

to take a nap – подрімати (вздремнуть)

to watch pennies -

stingy – жадібний

obstinately – наполегливо, вперто, завзято

to store up -

tought – вчив, вивчав


1. . Speak and write about: F. Scott Fitzgerald – the Jazz age writer.

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigmatic writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.[1] Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby (his most famous), and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote many short stories that treat themes of youth and promise along with age and despair.

Fitzgerald's work has been adapted into films many times. His short story, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", was the basis for a 2008 film. Tender is the Night was filmed in 1962, and made into a television miniseries in 1985. The Beautiful and Damned was filmed in 1922 and 2010. The Great Gatsby has been the basis for numerous films of the same name, spanning nearly 90 years; 1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, and 2013 adaptations. In addition, Fitzgerald's own life from 1937 to 1940 was dramatized in 1958 in Beloved Infidel.

"The Jazz Age"

F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1921

Paris in the 1920s proved the most influential decade of Fitzgerald's development. Fitzgerald made several excursions to Europe, mostly Paris and the French Riviera, and became friends with many members of the American expatriate community in Paris, notably Ernest Hemingway. Fitzgerald's friendship with Hemingway was quite vigorous, as many of Fitzgerald's relationships would prove to be. Hemingway did not get on well with Zelda. In addition to describing her as "insane" he claimed that she "encouraged her husband to drink so as to distract Fitzgerald from his work on his novel," the other work being the short stories he sold to magazines. Like most professional authors at the time, Fitzgerald supplemented his income by writing short stories for such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Weekly, and Esquire, and sold his stories and novels to Hollywood studios. This "whoring", as Fitzgerald and, subsequently, Hemingway called these sales, was a sore point in the authors' friendship. Fitzgerald claimed that he would first write his stories in an authentic manner but then put in "twists that made them into saleable magazine stories."

Fitzgerald wrote frequently for The Saturday Evening Post. This issue from May 1, 1920, containing the short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair", was the first with Fitzgerald's name on the cover.

Although Fitzgerald's passion lay in writing novels, only his first novel sold well enough to support the opulent lifestyle that he and Zelda adopted as New York celebrities. (The Great Gatsby, now considered to be his masterpiece, did not become popular until after Fitzgerald's death.) Because of this lifestyle, as well as the bills from Zelda's medical care when they came, Fitzgerald was constantly in financial trouble and often required loans from his literary agent, Harold Ober, and his editor at Scribner's, Maxwell Perkins. When Ober decided not to continue advancing money to Fitzgerald, the author severed ties with his longtime friend and agent. (Fitzgerald offered a good-hearted and apologetic tribute to this support in the late short story "Financing Finnegan".)

Fitzgerald began working on his fourth novel during the late 1920s but was sidetracked by financial difficulties that necessitated his writing commercial short stories, and by the schizophrenia that struck Zelda in 1930. Her emotional health remained fragile for the rest of her life. In 1932, she was hospitalized in Baltimore, Maryland. Fitzgerald rented the "La Paix" estate in the suburb of Towson, Maryland to work on his latest book, the story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychiatrist who falls in love with and marries Nicole Warren, one of his patients. The book went through many versions, the first of which was to be a story of matricide. Some critics have seen the book as a thinly-veiled autobiographical novel recounting Fitzgerald's problems with his wife, the corrosive effects of wealth and a decadent lifestyle, his own egoism and self-confidence, and his continuing alcoholism. Indeed, Fitzgerald was extremely protective of his "material" (i.e., their life together). When Zelda wrote and sent to Scribner's her own fictional version of their lives in Europe, Save Me the Waltz, Fitzgerald was angry and was able to make some changes prior to the novel's publication, and convince her doctors to keep her from writing any more about what he called his "material," which included their relationship. His book was finally published in 1934 as Tender Is the Night. Critics who had waited nine years for the followup to The Great Gatsby had mixed opinions about the novel. Most were thrown off by its three-part structure and many felt that Fitzgerald had not lived up to their expectations.[18] The novel did not sell well upon publication but, like the earlier Gatsby, the book's reputation has since risen significantly.

2. Translate idioms, word-combinations, words: to be wide awake, to sigh, wearily, to squeeze, to conceal, to sneer, to be supposed to do smth, to snore, serene, to stir.

to be wide awake – бути бадьорим

to sigh – зітхати

wearily – стомлено

to squeeze - вивчати

to conceal – щоб приховати

to sneer - іронізувати

to be supposed to do smth – зробити що-небудь

to snore – хропіти

serene – спокійний

to stir - розмішати


1.Speak and write about: How does time and society affect the family life or an individual life in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories.



2.Translate idioms, word-combinations, words:

to rake up the past – щоб ворушити минуле ;

obstinately – вперто ;

lonesome – самотній ;

to button - кнопка;

to knot – зав’язати вузлом ;

to go out – вийти ;

stingy - скупий ;

to see(through) – щоб побачити через ;

day in and day out – із дня в день ;


1.Speak and write about: “Your witness” Helen Nielsen – Do you think the autor has created time to live characters?


2.Translate idioms, word-combinations, words:

now and then- і тоді і зараз ;

to exhaust- вичерпувати , втомлювати ;

defiantly- демонстративно ;

tough- жорстоко ;

to puzzle- головоломки ;

grief- горе , біда ;

to pick- вибирати ;відбирати ; шукати;

bulky- громіздкий ;

to enrage- сказитися, збожеволіти ;

smart- розумний ;



1.Speak and write about: Washington Irving “The legend of Sleepy Hallow”.


"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by American author Washington Irving. The story is set in 1790 in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow’s most famous supernatural phenomenon is the ghost of the Headless Horseman, said to be a Hessian soldier who lost his head to a cannon ball during the Revolutionary War. The Horseman is seen most often riding by the church, where local historians say he was buried. Once upon a time, a guy named Ichabod lived in a little town called Sleepy Hollow. He was the town teacher and choirmaster. In other words, he was pretty important people. Everything would have been fine for our protagonist, if it weren't for a meddling woman. Katrina Van Tassel, the fairest lady in all the land, captures the heart of Ichabod, but it's not going to be easy—he already has a rival (Brom Van Brunt) he wants to kill Ichabod for taking his lady ( Katrina) . One day, a messenger comes to the schoolhouse to invite Ichabod to a party at the Van Tassels’. At this party, he apparently finds himself the best man in the house, and when the party is over he stays behind. For some reason, however, Katrina disappoints him. Ichabod leaves crestfallen. Ichabod is making his way home, crying all the way, when he meets the Headless Horseman. Ichabod goes nuts trying to get away from him, and when he finally thinks that he's safe, the Headless Horseman throws his head at him, and knocks Ichabod off of his horse and onto the ground.The next day, no one knows what happened to Mr. Crane. They see horse tracks, Ichabod's hat, and a pumpkin, and they all assume the Horseman got him.

2.Translate idioms, word-combinations, words:

Familiar- знайомі;

to relax- розслабитися ;

to tear out- вирвати ;

to do (to be doing) well- зробити ( і робити) добре ;

to dart- кидок , дротик ( для гри в дартс) ;

to boast- хвалитися ( вихвалятися) ;

distrust- недовіра ;

to be delighted- щоб бути в захваті ;

disaster- стихійне лихо ;

to shudder- здригатися ;


1.Speak and write about: Irving Show “Return to Kansas City”.


The story tells of Arline, the wife of Eddie a prizefighter who starts to nag him about going back to Kansas City to see her folks again. She complains because he sleeps so much and that she's lonesome. He tries to argue her out of going but she's insistent.

He can get the money if he fights Joe Principe who will knock his ears off, but Arline bullies him into accepting the match even though she knows he will be beaten up. He promises to call and accept it so she can go back to Kansas City..

Shaw depicts a usual family row of husband and wife. There are two protagonists in the text. In their quarrel we can see the positions of the both, Arline and Eddie. The author manages to open their points of view and in this way he open the protagonists’ characters The images are shown indirectly, through their speech and actions. In this aspect author’s remarks are of great importance. One of their aims is to expose the characters.


2.Translate idioms, word-combinations, words:

Confidence- впевненість ;

to scribble- нерозбірливий почерк , писанина ;

income- дохід ;

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