Monday, August 31, 2009
Don't like Dickens?
If you don't like Charles Dickens' writing, might I ask which of his books you've read?
I have a theory that most people's encounter with Dickens consists entirely of A Tale of Two Cities and/or Great Expectations. I expect these two are read mainly because they're assigned in school, and because they're short(er). But having become a recent Dickens fan, I think it's a shame that these are read most often, especially Great Expectations.
I love happy endings, and these don't end quite as splendidly as I wish. Nor do they have entirely sympathetic main characters, in my opinion. Interesting, yes, but not heroes you root for and want to emulate. Pip is rather unlikable for quite a while, though he gets a little better. Lucy and Darnay are likeable and noble, but a bit flat, and Carton is the scoundrel turned noble, but then he's gone suddenly just when he's turning around.
Oliver Twist I haven't read yet, having gathered from the film and play that it's depressing.
But there was a whole list of novels Dickens wrote, which I had never even heard of. Alas! Glorious books, how have I missed you all my four-and-twenty years?
I hadn't even heard of Bleak House or Little Dorrit two years ago, but now they're firm favorites. I think they're much more interesting and satisfying stories than the better known tales, though they are a bit longer. Ah, but so much more room for Dickensian characters and huge plot developments! :-) Now I'm itching to find and read all the other Dickens novels I've never heard of, since I like them the best so far. I would encourage you to do so also, and then let me know what you think of my theory. :-)
I've been told that Dombey and Son is an excellent picture of how a woman can build up or tear down. And apparently Andrew Davies is planning to write that one next as a miniseries, hurrah! So I might tackle that one next, and see what I think of his version after reading the book this time.
But it might be a while. After finishing Little Dorrit, I re-read On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, by Andrew Peterson, and am about to dive into the just-out sequel, North! Or Be Eaten, from which pages not even Dickens will be able to distract me. Watch for reviews and thoughts!