Dickens and Oprah

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Dickens and Oprah

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1Nickelini
dec 15, 2010, 12:41am

I just read this article on Oprah's picking of the Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations for her next book club . . . Bad Expectations: Oprah’s misguided view of Charles Dickens—and literature as a whole.

http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/79875/bad-expectations-oprah-winfrey-b...

2Nickelini
dec 15, 2010, 12:45am

...and I have to add that a couple of the comments are actually more interesting than the article itself.

3Phocion
dec 15, 2010, 7:24am

The elitism amused me, and I'm a pretentious git. One cannot read Dickens by a fireside (?) because heads fly in A Tale of Two Cities? Granted, perhaps Oprah should have been more honest in that these books are dark, due to their social criticism, but it's hardly as though people need to treat it as such Serious Business they cannot make themselves comfortable.

I do not doubt many will take the books back, as they did with Anna Karenina, because they found it "too hard," but I also suspect quite a few will enjoy the experience of Dickens. And if Oprah can only just get a handful of her followers to read these books, more power to her.

4AuntieCatherine
dec 15, 2010, 7:55pm

What appalling rubbish - I started reading Dickens at age 9 and loved him. I read more and I got more out of him, as indeed I do every time I re-read. The idea that the unschooled masses are not allowed to read him in case they don't get every single joke and reference is just nasty-minded elitism.

And I speak as a nasty-minded elitist.

I wonder if there isn't a whiff of both racism and misogyny here.

Anyone who doesn't laugh at Mr Whopsle plays Hamlet is dead from the neck up and anyone who does is ready to read Dickens.

5krolik
dec 18, 2010, 4:18am

A very silly article, for reasons stated in >3 Phocion: and >4 AuntieCatherine:. Plus, it claims Great Expectations has nothing to do with the holidays? With the opening Christmas Eve encounter with Magwitch, and the detailed account of the next day?

Am surprised that The New Republic has become so feeble...

6puddleshark
Redigerat: dec 18, 2010, 5:01am

#3&4 - couldn't agree more.

And as for approaching novels with the sole view of what they can teach us about ourselves, that's no worse than any other single, restricted approach to reading a novel, (even if it's not quite so scarily impressive as, say, a structuralist approach...) In fact, with Great Expectations it will probably prove quite fruitful.

Edited for the missing consonent

8Phocion
dec 23, 2010, 9:42pm

5. This is not a bad thing.

6. It is worth saying again. Whatever happens, again, many thousands are reading these significant novels--and this is not a reason to be bitter. In fact, it is something to celebrate!


Bingo.

That said, the cover art for the Oprah version is terribly awful.