Which Dickens' are you reading now? What do you think of it?

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Which Dickens' are you reading now? What do you think of it?

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Redigerat: sep 5, 2008, 12:46pm

I'm reading Little Dorrit.
Just started on my English Penguin Classic, but consulting my old Norwegian version (2 volumes) now and then.

sep 5, 2008, 1:03pm

I liked it a lot.

sep 5, 2008, 10:41pm

I'm currently reading The Pickwick Papers. I'm about half-way through. Many here find it to be their least favorite, which I can understand given the lack of a big, sweeping plot but it has some hilarious characters. Sam Weller left me cold on his first appearance but I think he's one of my favorite Dickens characters by this point.

The scandal behind it with Robert Seymour is also interesting. It reminds me of some of the writer/artist conflicts in comic books.

Redigerat: sep 12, 2008, 7:49am

I have also just started "Little Dorrit" (no touchstone...?!). Its probably a little too soon for me to comment on it :)

Redigerat: sep 12, 2008, 11:28am

After Bleak House and Martin Chuzzlewit, I thought I was one of the world's biggest Dickens fans.

Then I read Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and David Copperfield.

As of now, I'm batting two-for-five, my first two at bats being a home run with runners on base and a solid, solid double. My last three, I struck out swinging. High school students across America may hate Dickens no matter WHAT they're given, but I certainly can't necessarily fault them, given that they're indoctrination is usually Great Expectations. It's not awful, but it's waaaay overrated.

Then Trollope started pitching. Dickens has been benched for now.

sep 12, 2008, 6:43pm

That's odd because many people think Great Expectations is his most perfect book. Possibly it's because the tone is so unlike his other books - Pip is so obviously ashamed of his early life and opinions that it casts a melancholy shadow over the a lot of the book. Though, surely you must agree that "Mr Wopsle plays Hamlet" is one of the funniest things in literature?

I quite agree it's not really the right book to start people on Dickens - I suspect it's the length that's the prime consideration for young readers.

Can you say why you liked Martin Chuzzlewit which I agree is a greatly underestimated book, and disliked David Copperfield?

I don't mean to criticise your taste - I'm just interested.

dec 4, 2008, 1:26pm

I am reading Nicholas Nickelby the pink/green Folio Society edition, I think 1985.

Been a long time since I read it. I am reading all the Dickens novels in chronological order.

Nickelby is such a great indictment of the "boys schools" that, according to Dickens second foreward, no longer existed within a few years of this book's publication.

dec 4, 2008, 1:28pm

Couldn't agree more; while this doesn't live up to his later work, The Pickwick Papers is definitely worth reading!

dec 4, 2008, 1:59pm

Oh, I adore Pickwick! One of my favorites (though I haven't read all of Dickens yet).

dec 4, 2008, 3:02pm

Currently reading David Copperfield. Young Trot has just gone to stay with Mr. Wickfield. Really enjoying it, but reading this right after Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend have questions about the single threaded story telling.

Chronologically, where does David Copperfield fit with regard to Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend? I could probably look it up but if someone has not only the chronology, but some speculation on the change from single threaded storytelling to multiple threads, to boot, it would make the answer more fun.

Redigerat: dec 4, 2008, 7:27pm


i believe it is before them both. David Copperfield was really the high water mark for CD; the books that follow it are all pretty Bleak to a greater or lesser extent, IMHO

dec 7, 2008, 9:14am

I'm having a damn hard time with Martin Chuzzlewit. This is the 8th Dickens I've read and somehow I can't seem to get into it. The chapters are so long, and I'm not enjoying it.

Of course, it could be due to what was referred to in #5 as Dickens having been benched, recently, for Trollope. Maybe I just have to get back into the Dickens rhythm.

dec 7, 2008, 9:28am

I'll be starting Our Mutual Friend soon and recently finished Oliver Twist. Even though there have been some difficult times, I've really enjoyed my project to finish all of Dickens' major novels.

#10: David Copperfield came out before both Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend at the midpoint of his career.

Redigerat: dec 7, 2008, 10:44am

#12 I finished Martin Chuzzlewit not a long time ago and I enjoyed it a lot, it is probably even my favourite among the lesser known novels. Have you gotten to the American part already? It's tragic and comic at the same time, I loved it!

The adaptation with Paul Scofield is not bad either, even though it looks a bit dated visually (it's from 1994). Maybe it could get you going again...

dec 7, 2008, 5:24pm

>12 ambushedbyasnail: I haven't read Martin Chuzzlewit but I had a similar experience with Little Dorrit - overall I did enjoy it but I found myself wanting to just skimp on all the detail and just get on with the plot. Now that I've seen most of the latest BBC adaptation I realise I might have skimmed too much. Either that or the BBC is adding to, or subtracting to from the book!

dec 7, 2008, 8:56pm

I found that it's not a good idea to read too many in a row. Perhaps #12 you are suffering from Dickens fatigue.

Geneg: here is a chronology of the major works:

Sketches by Boz 1836
Pickwick 1837
Oliver Twist 1838
Nicholas Nickleby 1839
The Old Curiosity Shop 1841
Barnaby Rudge 1841
Martin Chuzzlewit 1844
Dombey and Son 1848
David Copperfield 1850
Bleak House 1853
Little Dorrit 1857
A Tale of Two Cities 1859
Great Expectations 1861
Our Mutual Friend 1865
The Msytery of Edwin Drood 1870

#15 Agree with you. Andrew Davis takes HUGE liberties with the texts. I don't like his adaptations at all: he dumbs them down.

dec 7, 2008, 10:30pm

>16 tomcatMurr:. The majority of adaptations have their flaws I guess. In the main, I was very happy with Davies' Bleak House series. But then I did watch it before reading the book.

The next time I read Dickens I hope to do so at a more leisurely pace. With his longer novels I tend to get impatient and want to blast through to the end.

dec 8, 2008, 12:23pm

I always liked Great Expectations because I related to it, but different opinions make the world go round, I guess.

I'm done with Pickwick, which was a lot of fun if occasionally unbelievable. I'm now not exactly reading a Dickens book, but I am reading Dickens by Peter Ackroyd. It's good, but it's definitely a book for nerds who want to know EVERYTHING about Dickens, including the time he went to Paris and met Victor Hugo and the time he had an operation on his butt. I ... usually am that type of nerd, but so far I would have preferred more about his family and less about his endless business negotiations. I plan to read the (much slimmer) Parallel Lives when I'm done, so hopefully that will even things out.

dec 8, 2008, 1:38pm

Whoa whoa whoa, Dickens had an operation on his butt?! Tell me more!

dec 8, 2008, 2:38pm

^ The downside of being a famous author — people want to know about these things!

(Pun not intended at first, but now very much so)

dec 8, 2008, 3:00pm

Heh. I didn't notice what you were talking about at first!

OK, being discrete ... near the end of writing Barnaby Rudge, Dickens had a growth of extra tissue (not harmful, but very unpleasant) inside his rectum and it had to be removed. And anesthesia hadn't been invented yet.

Ackroyd says this is why, in his opinion, the last chapters of the book suck.

dec 8, 2008, 3:23pm

That sounds incredibly painful. Ugh.

dec 9, 2008, 8:05am


dec 9, 2008, 11:16am

ok I just stood up.
Dickens had a fistula.
hey quietprofanity I must thank you for the Parallel Lives recommendation.I was not aware of this book, and it looks like just my cup of tea!

dec 9, 2008, 4:14pm

Parallel Lives is now on my never ending wishlist! Thanks, quietprofanity!

dec 15, 2008, 3:17pm

I've finally started Pickwick Papers! How can anyone read Dickens and not fall in love with language all over again?

dec 15, 2008, 3:43pm

#16 - You missed Hard Times (1854)

Currently I'm rereading random sections of Bleak House to write a paper. Something about ethics, suffering, and decay. I was inspired by John Ruskin's essay "Fiction Fair or Foul" in which he argues the Bleak House "illustrates the modern theology that the appointed destiny of a large average of our population is to die like rats in a drain, either by trap or poison."

dec 15, 2008, 7:17pm

oooooops how Freudian is that! It's the only one I don't like! thanks for nudging my memory!

Great Ruskin quote!

dec 17, 2008, 1:29pm

I'm reading a Norwegian edition of Oliver Twist. Seems great so far.

dec 17, 2008, 1:35pm

It's Christmas! I'm reading A Christmas Carol and loving it. Can't say the same about Pickwick. I guess he is a bit to unbelievable to me.

dec 17, 2008, 5:03pm

I just reread A Christmas Carol which I love every time. And then I read the other four Christmas novellas, which I hadn't read before. I didn't think they were great. Cricket on the Hearth wasn't too bad, but the others? Let's say I didn't think they are worth rereading. Has anyone else any opinions of the others? (The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain, The Chimes which I hated, and The Battle of Life.)

I've only read these and A Tale of Two Cities. I'm a newby to Dickens. But I do plan on reading the others someday.

dec 17, 2008, 5:20pm

I'm finishing up Little Dorrit now, having read Bleak House and Great Expectations in the last two years as well. Enjoyed all of them. If you all had to pick one, what should my next one be?

dec 18, 2008, 2:50am

Still reading Oliver Twist (cf. #29). If you want a rather light read, I'll recommend this Dickens' novel. Very humorous and very sad.

dec 18, 2008, 3:36am

#32 - I absolutely loved Dombey and Son, so that gets my recommendation. Although I'd have to say that stylistically, I think his best is Edwin Drood. Unfortunately, he kinda died halfway through, so it's a frustrating read.

dec 18, 2008, 3:45am

Ditto Dombey and Son. it has just the right balance of light and darkness, with some really magnificent writing.

Redigerat: dec 18, 2008, 4:05am

Dombey and Son will be my next Dickens novel. It was going to be Martin Chuzzlewit but I think I will save that one for later.

>31 rebeccareid: rebecca ~ As far as the shorter works go, I enjoyed No Thoroughfare and the Mrs Lirriper stories.

dec 18, 2008, 5:30am

Great--I'll check out Dombey and Son. How does it compare to David Copperfield or Our Mutual Friend? Those are the two I had been considering for a next Dickens . . .

dec 18, 2008, 7:23am

#37> I think that David Copperfield is superior to Dombey and Son, even though I enjoyed D & S. In fact, in my opinion, David Copperfield is the best of all his books.

dec 18, 2008, 8:14am

my favourite is Pickwick. OMF is much darker than D&S.

dec 18, 2008, 10:04am

I'm currently reading David Copperfield but after having read Our Mutual Friend and Bleak House in the last six months or so I'm a little disappointed in DC. It isn't as mature a work as either OMF or BH and as a result, for my taste, isn't quite as good overall. Of course all the essential Dickens' traits are there, the boatload of great characters, the touching and infuriating storylines, the wonderful language, but bildungsromans are not necessarily my favorites and the singlethreadedness that necessarily goes with the first person narrative is limiting IMHO. But don't trust me, I liked Hard Times, too. With Dickens I'm easy, all he has to do is string a handful of words together and I'm hooked.

If you haven't read it, I would suggest Our Mutual Friend. I think this is Dickens at his most mature and at the height of his powers. Of course the downside to going for the big bang early in reading his works is that nothing else may satisfy later.

Redigerat: feb 18, 2009, 11:45pm

I just finished reading Oliver Twist and enjoyed it quite a bit -- possibly because the last Dickens I read was the much heftier Nicholas Nickleby (hm, touchstone's not working) and the comparatively short length was a nice change. The only "problem" I had was that I'd seen "Oliver!", the musical, several years ago and the much nicer, entertaining Fagin definitely colored my perception of the manipulative Fagin from the book. I still don't know if I would've liked him as much as I did if I hadn't seen the musical beforehand.

Also, as an epileptic myself, I kind of chuckled at Monks being arguably the most sinister of the lot. A bit too predictable, that.

feb 25, 2009, 7:51am

I started The Old Curiosity Shop but somehow don't seem to be able to get into it. I just keep putting it aside and reading something else instead. Mainly because I find Quilp such a disturbing character. But I'm still determined to finish it one day...

mar 4, 2009, 5:38pm

Listening to Bleak House on unabridged audio, read by David Case (a/k/a Frederick Davidson). An interesting story, although I've taken a strong dislike to Harold Skimpole (what a user!), and find Esther almost as goody-goody as Little Nell from The Old Curiosity Shop.

aug 14, 2009, 7:49pm

I'm listening to Martin Chuzzlewit on my ipod. I chose it because it is so-o long (40 plus hours!) and because Robert Whitfield is such a fine reader, but though I adored listening to Our Mutual Friend (esp.), Nicholas Nickleby, and Little Dorritt, all of which I'd read before (in fact I've read all of Dickens except for MC), I'm also finding it very tough going. The descriptions seem padded and the heavy-handed satire is just too heavy handed--though after the Bernie Maddock affair, the various scams both English and American that Dickens goes after seem tame! Favorite Dickens: OMF, Bleak House, Tale of Two Cities are my favorites. And, yes, Trollope also rules my heart!

okt 27, 2009, 12:15pm

I'm about halfway through listening to Martin Chuzzlewit, read by Frederick Davidson (a/k/a David Case). It is rough going, and I hate the anti-American satire, not because I'm thin-skinned, but because it's so heavy-handed and corny. I drum my fingers through those sections, muttering "Go home already!"

I'm confused about Mrs. Gamp's "patient" who cries out the name of Chuzzlewit - this comes into play later on, right?

Redigerat: okt 30, 2009, 12:06pm

Well, I gave Barnaby Rudge another go and thought it wasn't quite as bad as I remembered, it certainly hasn't moved from its position as my least favourite Dickens. Martin Chuzzlewitisn't a favourite either, Tom Pinch makes me grind my teeth with rage, but the whole bit with the Anglo-Bengalee and the Jonas-goes-bonkers sub-plot redeems it it my pantheon,

okt 30, 2009, 8:27pm

(AuntieC, you are a braver woman than I. I will someday reread *BR* but not tomorrow or next week. All in all I like *MC* better than Oliver Twist. {It's not Tom Pinch I mind so much, it's Ruth.})

nov 1, 2009, 1:16am

I have no intentions of trying Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, nor Barnaby Rudge, so the only "new" Dickens left for me would be Nicholas Nickleby.

nov 1, 2009, 2:27pm

Nothing wrong with Nicholas Nickleby - quite the contrary, it's a really fun romp so long as you ignore the plot. It contains some of the best minor characters anywhere - Fanny Squeers, Mr and Mrs Mantalini, Mrs Nickleby, all the actors and the plot is one of Dickens baggy monsters, occasional stodgy moments balanced by some riotous comedy.

And Oliver Twist contains some of English Literatures staple tropes, and only the Monks sub-plot is a real grind, the rest of it is really powerful. The bit when er...... let us call him the murderer flees London and then is drawn back, is real, dark poetry.

Redigerat: nov 1, 2009, 5:47pm

#48: You don't want some...more? Nickleby is of a piece with the Dickens you've read and liked. Might be my favorite. Give it a try. Tale of Two Cities safely saved for last, in my book.

dec 7, 2009, 3:53am

Hmmmm... looking through my list of books read in 2009 I realise I've only read ONE Dickens this year - A House to Let back in March. I shall have to make amends in 2010! So, should my next book be Pickwick Papers, Dombey and Son or Martin Chuzzlewit or perhaps a re-read of Great Expectations?

dec 7, 2009, 11:35am

#51: Dombey's my favorite Dickens, I recommend you go with that. And avoid Martin Chuzzlewit for as long as possible!

dec 7, 2009, 12:20pm

Dombey and Son, definitely!

dec 24, 2009, 11:41pm

Thanks for the recommendations! I have Dombey and Son lined up for late Jan/early Feb 2010 :)

Redigerat: dec 25, 2009, 12:49am

Here's a Christmas Challenge. I just finished my first Dickens, Great Expectations, and didn't really like it. I loved the writing but the actual story I found uninteresting. Maybe I just care about Jeggers' 'mean little cards' than in Pip's life, but I'm very interested in the way he writes. I love great writers that are masters of describing things with just words. I have to admit to being a fantasy/scifi guy, but there are lots of excellent writers in that area, but I would really like to branch into some of the classics. I also really despise love story Lifetime Channel drippy stuff so please help me find some Dickens that I'll like better. So far, I think the Pickwick Papers might be my best bet. Any advice for a Robert Howard/Asimov/Burroughs/Tolkien/Sherlock Holmes fan on really any of the great Victorian Age Writers would be appreciated. Happy Christmas and New Year.

dec 25, 2009, 1:21am

Check out Wilkie Collins. Detective and mystery novels with super characters: THe Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale.
Also, Dickens's last (alas uncompleted) novel THe mystery of EDwin Drood might appeal to you.
Pickwick is brilliant, but there's not much of a story/plot.

dec 25, 2009, 2:00am

dec 25, 2009, 9:04pm

Edwin Drood has been on my mind lately. Dan Simmons, one of my favorite SF authors recently published his version of the completed work. His Hyperion saga is some of the best SF i've read and is very heavily based on the Canterbury Tales, with a dash of John Keats thrown in. In fact a clone of Keats becomes a major character towards the end of the series. He also wrote Ilium and Olympos which are obviously SF versions of Homer. I would rank him as one of the elite writers active today. I just thought that I would pass that on in return for your opinions.
Isn't the Pickwick Papers a collection of newspaper or magazine articles that Dickens wrote? And what's the deal with that whole Boz thing? That might just be right up my alley if there is some variety. I got really tired of Pip mooning away over some broad and being a dink towards Joe, who was the only character I actually liked.

dec 26, 2009, 1:09pm

Edwin Drood is, from a stylistic standpoint, an incomparable masterpiece.

dec 26, 2009, 7:10pm

I recommend Bleak House because I love it, and also because there's an incident of spontaneous combustion in the novel.

dec 26, 2009, 7:39pm

DPriest, I'll just tell you that you're just going to have to put up with the Victorian mindset and CD's twisted view of young women in order to get through any of the novels. BUT he is, for me, the #2 writer in English behind Shakespeare, and I guess that makes him #1 of prose.
He published all of his novels as serials, but beginning with Pickwick, which starts out to be very episodic, they were novels. Sketches by Boz is his earliest published work and is pretty much what you'd expect - random slices of life around London by a master of observation.

dec 26, 2009, 10:00pm

LizzieD, you could not have said any better!

dec 27, 2009, 1:32am

Thanks. I had crossed up Sketches with the Pickwick Papers. That's probably why I needed to ask that question. I think a more specific form of my question revolves around something more of a view on the Victorian era in general as opposed to following one little twit's fantasies for five hundred pages. I really like Scifi because the stories involve taking some social situation of today and expanding it into a speculative future timeframe. At least the ones I enjoy do, like the Dan Simmons mentioned above. One of the topics explored is what the Catholic church would do with itself after the whole Jesus thing has run its course after centuries of space exploration and alien contact, who have their own ideas about religion, by the way. In doing so, he points out both great features of the church in a humanitarian sense and the 'Screw you Galileo!' arch-conservative attitudes that still float around the business end of the church. Maybe the whole thing boils down to me preferring a story that deals with sociological angles as opposed to psychological ones. There has to be some Dickens out there that fits that bill a little better than Great Expectations. He's such an outstanding writer who lived in an extraordinary time that there just has to be.

dec 27, 2009, 9:35am

Hard Times
Bleak House
Our Mutual Friend are probably your best bet, in that case then, Dirtpriest. Everything that Dickens wrote was fiercely critical of certain aspects of his society: Bleak House: the law; OMF: rampant commercialism and the financial world (hugely topical today); and Hard Times: industrial relations in the manufacturing north of England. Even his earliest books are highly satirical and critical, but Dickens got angrier and darker as he got older.

Boz was Dickens's pen name from the earliest days of his career as a parliamentary journalist for a London paper. The name stuck to him, and even his friends called him boz. Incidentally, his illustrator was called phiz, and together boz and phiz ruled the London literary world from the late 1830s to the 1850s.

Here is a link to phiz.


for more on Dickens and his attitude to the social problems of his day, you might enjoy his Selected Journalism.
I'm looking forward to reading the Dan Simminds book.

Redigerat: dec 27, 2009, 10:32am

Murr, have you seen the latest biography, Charles Dickens, by Michael Slater?

I took a brief look at it yesterday, as I was 'strolling' through Barnes& Noble, and it looks interesting.

dec 27, 2009, 12:17pm

Awesome. And hey, I think we all get darker and angrier as we get older.

dec 27, 2009, 5:45pm

I just finished "The Chimes" as a Christmas read. Nothing as fun as "A Christmas Carol" and the little "It was all a dream ... OR IS IT?" was weird, but I liked some of the satire. I'm not sure if I want to try "Cricket on the Hearth" or move on to read "A Study in Scarlet" before seeing the new Holmes movie.

dec 27, 2009, 9:22pm

Aluvalibri, no, I haven't seen it: those kind of books take years to make it over here. I did read an online review of it, though, somewhere.

I'm intrigued as to what Slater has to say about D that is new. I mean, his life has been so exhaustively worked over and there are so many excellent bios of boz, that I wonder what new things could be said.

dec 27, 2009, 10:18pm

Murr, from what I read both on Amazon and the blurb on the dustjacket, it seems Slater focused more on Dickens as a writer, speaking mostly about his works as opposed to writing a general biography like, for example, the one Peter Ackroyd wrote a few years ago.

dec 28, 2009, 6:02pm

Slater is *the* modern expert on Dickens as an writer of short pieces and as a reader of his own works. I'm going to get the new bio with my christmas vouchers and will probably review it here.

As for Great Expectations, don't make the mistake I made for years, thinking that Dickens wrote about a twit because he couldn't get the hang of more interesting characters. Pip is a twit and a snob, even Pip knows this, at the time and especially as an older man when he is writing his own story. The "I" in Great Expectations isn't Dickens, it's Older Pip, looking back on his younger life and shaking his head.

Pickwick Papers is a much better introduction to Dickens, but you have to stick with it for four or five chapters, until Dickens hits his stride. After that, you just have to hang on for the ride.

dec 28, 2009, 8:31pm

Auntie, I look forward to your review of the new biography with bated breath. In fact, I shall not leave my computer until then. Very pertinent comments on Great Expectations.

Redigerat: dec 28, 2009, 10:40pm

I feel compelled to say, in case I have offended anyone, that there were two things I liked about GE. One was dickens' obvious skill as a legendary author, and two, looking back in retrospect at Pip's growth, knowing that Pip is the 'author' of this memoir. This was probably the first book I have ever read that was boring drudgery to read but yet was satisfying after I had finished. I liked how he (Pip) just walked away from most everything that the book was about, and apparently went on to be a fine man with a sense of humility and honor.
I plan on reading Sketches fairly soon and then Pickwick, after that, I'll just hang around here like a stray dog and read what you folks have to say. You know a lot more about this stuff than me. Back to Harry Potter for me, as I have been waiting years for a conclusion so I can read them in one gulp, as it were. Actually, I have to watch this Monday Night Football matchup for fantasy football reasons. My big lead is down to one and a half points and I cannot afford a loss.

Redigerat: dec 30, 2009, 7:19pm

I'm not reading any Dickens right now, but if this thread had cme out when I was reading either The Old Curiosity shop or Hard Times} I would have rushed to post. Those are the two that have impressed me the most; I don't r emember at what age I read them, but long ago -- probably somewhere from age 35-45.

Oliver Twist (read at h.s. age, and Pickwick Papers (in my 50s) also deserve at least "Honorable Mention" on this kind of list.

dec 30, 2009, 4:36pm

I'm a couple hundred pages into the Slater bio, and am loving it. Lively, readable, massively researched, and yes, it focuses mostly on his life as a writer (and business man, and self promoter and theatrical buff... !). If you're a Dickens aficionado, this one is terrific reading, no matter how many times you've heard about Warren's Blacking. It reminds us with fresh amazement that Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby were written by a hyperactive 25-yr-old... AT THE SAME TIME. Whew.

dec 30, 2009, 5:23pm

Thank you for the 'push', jstielstra ;-))
Now, if I go ahead and order it, I will feel motivated to do so!

dec 30, 2009, 8:01pm


(Murr resisting temptation to add it to his Amazon wish list.)

dec 30, 2009, 10:35pm

Come on, Murr, you know you WILL add it to the Amazon wish list.......(I did).

jan 9, 2010, 2:02am

I'm three-quarters of the way through listening to 'Little Dorrit' on audio. There are moments of pointed brilliance - the Circumlocution Office and the fabulous Barnacles, for example - but hearing it read, I am struck by how much waffle there is in the dialogue.

Maybe I have OD'd (over-Dickensed) by listening to 'Bleak House' and 'Little Dorrit' back to back...

jan 9, 2010, 11:28am

Maybe, like, you know, actually reading one of them (now there's a novel thought) might clear your head and prepare you for the next "read".

jan 11, 2010, 3:59am

#79 I'm not reading much at the moment - suffering from a bad case of 'reader's block' - so I'm listening to books which I have already read. You do learn new things about favourite books hearing them read aloud, but maybe I should alternate the Dickens with another author...

jan 15, 2010, 9:18am

#79 - That was kinda mean, but at the same time, really good. Nice diss, man!

jan 16, 2010, 2:49am

I don't think there's anything to be ashamed of in listening to a book read aloud (apart from the scandalous extravagance of having paid fifty quid for a 28 CD box set). Dickens did readings of his own work. You can sometimes appreciate the beauty of language (or conversely, weaknesses in writing) far more easily when it is read to you.

Another advantage is that you don't get the pages of your book wet. I've just listened to the scene near the end of 'Little Dorrit' between Arthur Clennam and John Chivery,that most noble and ridiculous of characters, and it had me in tears.

jan 16, 2010, 4:58pm

I've just always thought of listening and reading being two separate and distinct activities, utilizing different parts of the brain and requiring different skills. I just don't think one reads an audio book. It's a matter of terminology and I'll be the first to admit to being overly sensative towards the difference.

jan 18, 2010, 11:27am

I agree with you geneg. I think audiobooks are wonderful and I loved them when I had a long commute to work. But, I see a difference between reading and listening. I would never say that I read a book when I really listened to it. However, I wouldn't hesitate to say that I listened to a book. As puddleshark said there is no shame in it.

jan 19, 2010, 2:44am

Finished listening to Little Dorrit. Fabulous. And I particularly enjoyed Rigaud meeting his fate - surely the most irritating character in Dickens (after Mrs Nickelby - what a shame a house never fell on her). It made me realise how weak the Andrew Davies' adaptation was, though.

#83 I think you're right about the different parts of the brain. I seem to have overloaded the visual cortex for the moment, but maybe the temporary switch to spoken language will press the 'reset'.

jan 19, 2010, 2:05pm

Personally, I love Mrs Nickleby - mad as a barrel of badgers

Ruth Pinch and her brother should have been squashed

jan 19, 2010, 2:40pm

(I'd at least have pinched them!) (A lot)

jan 23, 2010, 3:23am

Arrggh! I've read the first few chapters of Dombey and can't seem to get into it at all. So I switched to Martin Chuzzlewit and have the same problem. Maybe I'll try again later...

jan 23, 2010, 11:09am

I LOVE the opening of Chuzzlewit! So sarcastic!

jan 23, 2010, 8:51pm

Now, I trust we all know about A Christmas Carol? But did you know that in later years, Dickens produced Christmas Anthologies, usually with a framing story by him and other stories contributed by other people.

It isn't hard to find the Dickens contributions in various anthologies of his works, but until recently it was hard to find an entire Christmas edition, complete with the other people's work.
However, The Hesperus Press are producing paperback editions I can heartily recommend. The writing varies widely in quality, but I can recommend Somebody's Luggage and Mrs Lirriper

jan 23, 2010, 10:40pm

I didn't know that, AC. Thank you! And having received a Hesperus pb from the ER here, I can at least attest to the quality of their binding: a pb bound in numbers like a real book.

jan 24, 2010, 12:18pm

On the subject of Dickens and Christmas, two nicely bound, reasonably priced editions of The Christmas Books have been recently released. I succumbed to the buzz about the White's Books edition and bought it in October, but if I had known that the Everyman's edition would be released in November, I think I'd have rather waited for it. The wrap-around cover art on the White's edition is nice, but the binding is rather stiff and just doesn't feel as nice to me as Everyman's editions do.

jan 24, 2010, 12:37pm

Last night, prompted by the above comments, I ordered a copy of Mrs. Lirriper.

jan 29, 2010, 5:33pm

>93 aluvalibri: Let us know what you think when you've had a chance to read it.

jan 29, 2010, 7:11pm

I will.

jan 30, 2010, 2:42am

I am re-reading A Tale of two cities. I think I last read it ten years or more ago, but it made very little impression on me then. I am enjoying the language more this time, but I had forgotten how dark it is. No Mr Guppy or Flora Finching to lighten the mood.

feb 4, 2010, 2:28pm

I'm hoping to finish up Martin Chuzzlewit, but am also working on Slater's new biography.

mar 12, 2010, 10:12am

Just started a re-read of Dombey and Son. Having a little trouble getting into it, as I've just finished a Trollope-fest (all the Barset novels) and the change in writing styles is making my brain hurt. But I loved the Christening scene - that icy chill pervading the whole occasion, seeming to emanate from Dombey himself.

mar 18, 2010, 7:03am

Still reading Dombey and Son. Just reached the description of end of term party at Doctor Blimber's, and what a joy it is!

'Mr Feeder, after imbibing several custard-cups of negus, began to enjoy himself. The dancing in general was ceremonious, and the music rather solemn - a little like church music in fact - but after the custard-cups, Mr Feeder told Mr Toots that he was going to throw a little spirit into the thing. After that Mr Feeder not only began to dance as if he meant dancing and nothing else, but secretly to stimulate the music to perform wild tunes. Further, he became particular in his attentions to the ladies...'

The contrasts in the chapter - the stuffy, formal Blimbers, the poignancy of Paul's illness and the quiet kindness shown to him by everyone, and the unexpected sight of Mr Feeder letting his hair down - all these different emotions ricocheting around the scene and interacting. It is an amazing piece of writing. And very, very funny.

BTW Does anyone know whether Dombey and Son has ever been adapted for the screen?

Redigerat: mar 28, 2010, 2:50pm

I read Dombey and Son last spring and liked certain aspects. Some of the characters are very gentle and others obtusely cold. The rest are large, animated caricatures. I think there's a good balance and intertwining of these stories, but as a novel (which Dickens was never really writing) there are some weaknesses.

I actually don't think it would make a very bad screen adaptation. I could see actors imbuing life into the larger roles, playing them a little hot if you will, and coming across a bit more powerfully because of it.

I tell you though (SPOILER ALERT), I was kinda disappointed that little Paul died. Then Florence doesn't have the gumption to do much. Sure, she suffers well, but...and Edith and Carker should have had a little time in the sun together. I mean you kinda want Carker to destroy Paul senior...Carker is a more appropriate match for Edith anyway.

Anyway, I read Mutual Friend before that and found it superlative.

mar 23, 2010, 9:35am

I usually tout Our Mutual Friend as his most mature work with fewer animated caricatures and more fully developed characters. I think the story, while sprawling, holds together better than some. I have not yet read the stub of Drood, or Dombey and Son or Nicholas Nickleby yet, so I can't judge them, but I thought Our Mutual Friend was the best Dickens I've read.

mar 24, 2010, 12:49pm

101Bleak House yet? That's the one I usually tout as the most complete novel.

Nicholas Nickelby is best read as a romp, very little mature characterisation, a lot of theatricality but a gallery of characters one can't forget.

mar 25, 2010, 9:16pm

I think of Bleak House as a close second. I really like OMF, a lot.

Redigerat: mar 28, 2010, 6:16pm

>103 geneg:
I agree with you. The Bradley Headstone stuff at the end was pretty powerful.

To me, from a combination of personal and societal constraints, Dickens' portrayal of realistic love (realistic, not idealized) is his great weakness. I think he sometimes comes close to genuine sentiment in the feelings (unrequited mind you) Pip has for Estella, or in the dark, twisted characters like Bradley Headstone or Carker who seem to have actual human urges. It's what kills me in some of the longer works now that I've read a few, the sort of David/Agnes rehash for whoever is pairing up.

mar 28, 2010, 7:07pm

>104 DanMat:

I don't agree that dark and twisted is synonymous with realistic and human. One of the things I like so much about Dickens is how his fictional portrayal of human affection tracks so closely with the good that I see around me in the real world.

Redigerat: mar 30, 2010, 10:57pm

>105 cpg:

Doing a little straw man on me, eh? :)

Yes, dark and twisted is not synonymous with realistic and human, but the idealized couple as portrayed relentlessly by Dickens (though quaint and charming and I'm sure exist somewhere in the real world--though unfortunately, I have to strain pretty hard to think of ones I know) in it's own way is pure fluff. Done well enough mind you. It's a nice contrast to the grit and obsessions of the urban scenes, but...

Dickens himself had a troubled marriage and kept an affair with the actress Ellen Ternan hidden for as long as he could, so it doesn't necessarily come from his own experience, like the descriptions of urban life. Besides, I'm convinced He was too astute an observer to actually believe in the idealistic marriage.

Dickens had written more for Edith and Carker, but for various reasons rejected it. Here a website that shows the ways Dickens struggled, relented and maybe even promoted Victorian Puritanism:


(skip to: "Three times at least, Dickens, swayed by the representations of friends whose opinions...")

There is also a great article by Anne Humphreys on Carker. It's in JStor though.

Well anyway, I don't wholly dislike the things you like about Dickens, I was just making an observation on Dickens' work, the weakness I'm referring to coming more from the experience of reading it--particularly a modern reader who is accustomed to a more frank portrayal--than what Dickens may or may not have actually felt about these issues or his even ability to write about them. In fact I think that's my point, that such a great writer avoids so much of the male/female interaction. Dickens is an admitted realist (whether or not this is the case is another matter entirely) and if you read the preface to Oliver Twist he explains his intentions (particularly how to accurately portray the conditions of the poor) with an impassioned rebuttal to the Victorian guard:


I think there were limits though to how he would use his talent, and Dickens is first and foremost a great entertainer. I admire Dickens the artist a bit more though.

Here's another article that explains it better:


mar 29, 2010, 10:34pm

>106 DanMat: "the idealized couple as portrayed relentlessly by Dickens . . . in it's own way is pure fluff"

I disagree that (a) Dickens' portrayal of happy, kind people is insubstantial or trifling, that (b) the happy couples Dickens portrayed were idealized rather than true-to-life, and that (c) Dickens was relentless in portraying happy relationships. Other than that, I agree with your statement entirely.

"Dickens himself had a troubled marriage"

My view of Dickens' work is not based on an ignorance of his life. I've read Ackroyd, Hawes, and Jordan, and I have high hopes of tackling my copy of Slater soon. I just don't think that having an unhappy relationship means that one is ignorant of or unqualified to portray happy ones.

mar 30, 2010, 4:26pm

I partially agree about OMF. I agree that with the Headstone/Lizzie/Wrayburn triangle he was trying something new and doing it bloody well too. Odd to think what we night have got it he'd continued at the height of his powers for another ten years. Verdi was still composing at 80 and I can imagine an 80yr old Dickens producing something terrifying in 1892 if this was the way he was going.

OTOH you have to put up with the ins and outs of Noddy Boffin who is a much better baddie than a goodie (trying to avoid spoilers) here and who makes no sense.

People complain about Esther Summerson in Bleak House as too goody-goody but I've met someone just like her. An unwanted illegitimate child (it was a boy in this case) who tries desperately to be useful and needed all the time.

Redigerat: mar 31, 2010, 1:52pm

Um. Help. I'm sitting here trying to think of happily married couples in Dickens: the Meagles in Little Dorrit, the Bagnets in Bleak House, the Toodles in Dombey and Son...

Yes, there's lots of young people falling in love and getting married right at the end the book, but that's just romance. For the already-married couples, I can think of far more dysfunctional marriages than I can ideal marriages.

Edited for spelling.

mar 31, 2010, 3:52pm

What I was refering to orginally were relationships between men and women, not so much marriages, and how those relationships are usually idealized (either for plot purposes, easier public consumption, or to conform to Victorian mores). Usually the characters taking center stage, not the ones in the background. For instance, to use OMF, the John Harmon and Bella coupling and even Wrayburn and Lizzie Hexam, are just not convincing. Dickens has to sort of change Wrayburn's personality before he ends up with Lizzie and even Bella undergoes a personality adjustment I never quite bought.

There is some sweetness to the adoration David has for Dora (and eventually Agnes) but Dickens seems to fall back on it time and again. The irony to me is that the characters like Headstone or Carker, or the longing Pip has for Estella, have a resonance and seem to come from someplace genuine. Why this is, I still have to think about. My hunch is that Dickens was such an overall genius that inevitabily some of these things (genuine human elements between characters) seeped into the work but not necessairly where they should, i.e. the couples who are actually getting together, because, there was an acceptable paradigm for that to happen.

But yes, those secondary couples aren't experencing a blessed conubial existence either. I do believe it contrasts nicely (the romance element) with everything else Dickens writes about so I can't imagine what a more "realistic" love story where the characters passions are more understood by the reader would be like. But perhaps that's something that would have come in later books if he continued writing.

Anyway, Dickens' prose is so amazing and his abilities as a narrator are unsurpassed. He also wrote some of the greatest opening paragraphs. Of the books I've read so far, I'm not sure which is my favorite. Pip's beautifully condensed biography is perfect, but BH and TOTC are also incerdible. Who would ever imagine someone could fit a Megalosaurus into the first few lines of a book so well!

>99 puddleshark:
I guess there was:

(read the review, after you finish the book of course, it's informative)

apr 1, 2010, 4:52pm

I'm not sure I agree that the Lizzie/Wrayburn coupling is not realistic. There's Wrayburn, who wants her but, in the beginning at least, knows he doesn't want to marry her but doesn't want to make her his mistress - or not quite. There's a bit (I think it's just before he goes in the river) where he's musing over it and he's on the cusp of deciding.

And whatever he wants, he's damn sure he doesn't want Headstone to have her, even though - in social terms - he'd be an excellent match for her.

And Lizzie, whose flattered and attracted, but flees before she can be seduced and is found. Had Wrayburn not ended up in the river, want to bet he couldn't have seduced her if he'd put his mind to it. He's articulate, charming, good looking and streets above her socially.

More happy couples, The Plornishes, The Garlands, The Crummles, the Squeers but you're right, there are a lot more dysfunctional marriages, but a lot of those are powerfully described. I thoroughly believe the marriage between Pet Meagles and Henry Gowan, and I thoroughly believe how unhappy she in particular will be in it.

apr 4, 2010, 11:16pm

(My "Lizzie," btw is for "Hexam" and D for Dickens.) I always just thought that not rewarding the self-made man but giving the lovely Liz to Wrayburn and making him much the better human being was another stroke of genius. That triangle is the best part of the book for me - and it's all good!

apr 5, 2010, 10:01pm

>108 AuntieCatherine: Odd to think what we night have got it he'd continued at the height of his powers for another ten years.

Dicken's last completed story is called 'George Silverman's Explanation'. It gives the best indication of what we could have expected: A quantum leap in psychological subtlety and acuity, a prose style that anticipates Henry James, and a modernist sense of form. I thoroughly recommend it.

Interesting discsussion. It's important to remember that the pairing off of couples in Dickens is usually a function of the comic element in the story: Comedies have to end in weddings. My favorite marriage in Dickens is that of the Varden's in Barnaby Rudge. It's not exactly happy, but it makes me happy reading about it.

apr 6, 2010, 7:03am

To be honest, I've never liked George Silverman's Explanation. I see what he was trying to do, I'm just not sure he succeeded.

Or maybe I should assume that an author of genius would get it right and me, a reader of non-genius, just hasn't understood it.

Redigerat: apr 6, 2010, 4:54pm

Personally, I'd be happy if he wrote another few novels without sublimating every sexual impulse. If that meant darker, so be it (though isn't that the goal for morality mongers from the church on down, to make it dark and call it sinful).

Has anyone ever read Mill on the Floss? Whether or nor Eliot planned to flood out St. Ogg's--that it wasn't a sort of deus ex machina--it's still a stunningly botched ending. The most you could credit Eliot for was she hadn't the heart to write it with any conviction. It's quite the jam Maggie finds herself in and it's a crying shame it wasn't worked out better. And, just a side note, the provincials in the story are really unlikeable in a dull, prosaic way. Even Flaubert beefed up his Bourgeoisie. I think people would understand Emma Bovary a lot better if she were surrounded by Gleggs and Dodsons (Flaubert, in his own way, was every inch the petty bourgeois whose opinions he decried throughout his works). Anyway, these devices and clunky constructs in Victorian novels get in the way. To have such great talent creating charatcters and then to disavow it all by tidying things up for the public makes, at the very least, a sometimes confusing and dissatisfying read.

I guess I can turn to Thackeray if I want more chemistry and tensions (but it's handled in a jocular manner, and though at times refreshing or trenchant even, tends to dull the edge of any poignant love story just as much as anything else). Or read the Russians (Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekhov) who are moralists but not at the sake of character.

>112 LizzieD:
I agree that it was a uniquely subversive (and somewhat thrilling) thing for Dickens to do. And if you credit Wrayburn's tranformation to Lizzie, it's a significant gesture he bestows on her. I'd wish we'd seen a bit more courtship or psychology though. But it's kind of a neat surprize and actually makes Headstone's jealousy more burning and criminal (that Wrayburn is a guy with a privileged life who has money and influence who can have the girl I love without being in love, etc...).

I'll have to check out George Silverman's Explanation. The Mystery of ED looks like it would have been great (I've read the opening chapter a few times). I almost don't want to read it because great and unfinished are such a terrible combination.

apr 6, 2010, 5:03pm

It's odd you should say that about Thackeray, because I find him almost entirely unreadable with the exception of Vanity Fair. A - he seems dull and B - there's a heartiness, a coarseness, I don't think you get in Dickens.

Part of the problem with the love stories is that Dickens was, above all else, a man who knew his market. He knew exactly how far he could lead his audience because they got an attack of the Podsnaps. There's a letter in which he talks about an art exhibition he went to in which all the English painters were very decorous and being decried for it, and he pointed out that if you demand that your art is decorous, you miss out on an awful lot of life. I suspect he'd have loved to have said more but knew his readers wouldn't stand for it.

apr 6, 2010, 5:57pm

I think Usain Bolt is a remarkable athlete, but it's a downright shame that he's never unleashed his obvious pent-up desire to do rhythmic gymnastics.

Redigerat: apr 6, 2010, 8:07pm

Would 117 make sense if I knew who Usain Bolt is/was?

apr 6, 2010, 8:11pm

Yes it would!

Redigerat: apr 6, 2010, 10:07pm

>117 cpg:
That's a pretty weak analogy...can't you do better? Usain Bolt is a remarkable sprinter. That said, he'll never win a major marathon. Rhythmic gymnastics though?--and, supposing he did have a pent-up desire for rhythmic gymnastics, I doubt society or anything else could stop him from acting on it. So, I guess you're intentionally misinterpreting my point?

Dickens' characters are separate from himself. If their story leads them to love I'm simply commenting on the effectiveness of that story. Yes, an author uses their life experiences but it doesn't necessarily mean they're expressing (or repressing) pent up desires. Great fiction is a step removed.

>116 AuntieCatherine:
He could measure the audience pretty well, and without a doubt Thackeray never had the same ability as Dickens. Some of the other things he wrote aren't bad, but I could see how they are much less entertaining. Major Gahagan, Catherine, Barry Lyndon are good. Vanity Fair is definitely coarser than anything Dickens wrote but it is, as the full title states, a novel without a hero.

apr 7, 2010, 2:49pm


I'm not intentionally misinterpreting you, but I'm definitely having trouble appreciating your position. Your reference to "dark, twisted characters like Bradley Headstone or Carker who seem to have actual human urges" is either a rejection of the humanity of admirable people or a rejection of Dickens' ability to portray them authentically. Yet C.S. Lewis characterized Dickens as "the great author on mere affection" and said that Tolstoy was the only other author who even really dealt with it. As I see it, lamenting the fact that Dickens had a lot of good, happy, affectionate characters is akin to lamenting the fact that Mozart had a lot of notes.

There is plenty of lust in Dickens' works, plenty of people behaving promiscuously, but that behavior is not portrayed explicitly, and there are also plenty of characters who appear to take Christian sexual morality seriously. Even on this subject, Dickens writes with grace and restraint. Is there something really wrong with that? A sexed-up Dickens novel would be a bigger travesty than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I'd rather watch Usain Bolt prancing about in a leotard, waving a ribbon on a stick.

Redigerat: apr 9, 2010, 4:22pm

I wouldn't want a sexed-up Dickens either. I just think it's unfortunate that characters like Headstone or Carker are the ones to show any trace of physical desire.

As far as I can recall there aren't sex scenes in Tolstoy, but attraction, romance and physical passions are all present and implied competently enough. I believe, or rather have no difficulty believing, when characters in Tolstoy (for better or worse) are attracted to each other. Now you can say that yes the reverse happens, that life does imitate art, as there are many idyllic unions in the world, but the way it's handled by Dickens has a tendency to be slightly facile. Now, it's my belief (or hope) that Dickens held back for a mix of personal and public reasons. You don't have to appreciate my position, yet at the same time I'm a little hurt you have taken such strong offense. As if I don't have as great an appreciation for Dickens as you simply because I find an aspect of his work is a little weak or overused.

My difficulty comes from an 800 page novel where the female is portrayed as nothing more than a doting cherub, call it what you will. I'm not opposed to a cheerful (especially a sweetly Dickensian courtship which expertly treads treacly) but for the size and range of his oeuvre there should be more variety of depth.
I do object about what you think Dickens implies, because I feel that it's not implied so much as omitted. Who were you thinking about behaving promiscuously?

Anyway, you must be a big Usain Bolt fan.

As a peace offering (a kind of leotard, with a wide stickless ribbon, and prancing) it's the best I can do, barring photoshop:


(at first I thought you were being completely ridiculous about the "obvious pent-up desire to do rhythmic gymnastics" but now I can see you were on to something!)

(BTW I never intimated any pent-up desires on Dickens' personal behalf, and I'd argue sex should be considered exclusively a moral issue)

apr 9, 2010, 4:21pm

Closing that dust-up with a big green exclamation mark!

apr 11, 2010, 1:18pm

In the spirit of the title of this thread, ....I'm currently reading A Tale of Two Cities and not liking it as much as other Dickens I've read. I was expecting this to be my favourite Dickens of all, but it's not. Does anyone who loves this book care to help me see its greatness? I think my biggest problem is the characters--I'm half way through the novel and so far I don't care about any of them.

apr 11, 2010, 1:51pm

Afraid I can't help you there as it is the Dickens that I've liked least!

apr 12, 2010, 12:08pm

#124. Me neither. I found it too unrelievedly dark. I prefer Dickens' novels where there is more of a contrast between light and shadow.

apr 12, 2010, 1:13pm

Well, since none of the many A Tale of Two Cities fans were around to help, I browsed through the Tale pages at Sparksnotes: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/twocities/context.html, and I think it helped fill in some of the gaps for me. I suspect the second half may be more interesting, but I don't expect to love this book.

apr 12, 2010, 2:03pm

the problem with A Tale of Two Cities is that he wrote it under the influence of Carlyle 's the French Revolution. Carlyle had a really weird prose style, even weirder to 21stC eyes than to 19thC ones, and I think Dickens "caught" it from him.

Carlyle was also a proponent of an early version of the "all history is made by one strong man" school of thought he got from Germany and which turned up later there as part of Fascism. I don't reckon Dickens thought like that at all and I think it threw him. It's a great plot, but I agree, there's something wrong with the prose. If you want shorter Dickens, I always recommend Great Expectations

Redigerat: apr 12, 2010, 4:37pm

We can also blame Hard Times on Carlyle (though it has its admirers).

Here is some info along with CD's inscription to Carlyle:

apr 12, 2010, 4:53pm

Love that one. Read Bleak House before it. Now reading Our Mutual Friend. Wanted to read Dickens' "London trilogy."

apr 12, 2010, 4:55pm

AuntieCatherine & DanMat - Thanks! So it's not just me. I thought perhaps my English lit degree had been a waste of time ;-)

apr 12, 2010, 7:45pm

I wouldn't say I'm an admirer of Hard Times, not any more than I am an "admirer' of his other works. It was a rap on Benthamism, soulless utilitarianism. Structurally, it reminds me of the album version of "Light My Fire" and the radio version. It started out as a beat down of the Gradgrind school of Hard Facts, and ended up with blackmail, death, and the evils of the Factory System. Not too much of a stretch for Dickens, but given that this was a short cycle novel, it kind of made seem to wander somewhat. It seemed like six hundred pages had been rather crudely excised from the middle.

apr 14, 2010, 4:58pm

>122 DanMat: "Who were you thinking about behaving promiscuously?"

For starters: Mr. Mantalini, Sir Mulberry Hawk, Daniel Quilp, Hugh, Sir John Chester, Molly, Bill Sykes, Nancy, Bet, Steerforth, Martha Eadell, Little Em'ly, and Alice Marwood.

(By the way, thanks for you cordial response to my less-than-cordial criticism.)

apr 20, 2010, 12:36pm

Yea, me. I finally finished A Tale of Two Cities! It only took me 20 years. In the end, I did like it. It just took a really long time to engage with the characters and figure out what the heck they were doing. Madame Defarge must be one of the scariest characters in literature! She was one of the highlights of the book. Well, that was my Dickens for the year. I'll be back next year with another one (or maybe sooner, who knows).

apr 21, 2010, 12:33am

It only took me 20 years.


apr 21, 2010, 1:29am

Finished Dombey and Son. Loved the contrasting moods, particularly in the first half of the book; the air of melancholy and mortality seem to make the comedy all the richer. And some of the scenes - the party at Blimber's and the disintegration of the Dombey household that ends with Florence fleeing into the street - are so wonderful that I am just left breathless by the power of the writing.


*spoiler alert - go no further if you have not read the book*

as a product of the twentieth century, I cannot come to terms with the redemption of Mr D. His descent into near madness? Yes. His complete change of character? Nope. Sorry. And that scene where Florence asks his forgiveness. No, no, no. Sorry.

apr 21, 2010, 2:44am

#135 -- TomCat, . . .

Seriously. I bought it around 1990, but could have been as early as 1988. Read the first bit coming home on the bus. Put it down to disembark. Picked it up again around the year 2000. Read the first chapter, put it down. Picked it up again this February for the group Dickens read. Finished it last night. Lets just say that it took me just a while to get into it. It was pretty good, in the end. But,yes, I did the ceremonious throwing it across the bed (not the room) when I finished, and turned to my husband and said, "well, that only took me twenty years."

Redigerat: maj 4, 2010, 9:44am

>136 puddleshark:
Dickens manages those group chapters so well. No other author is quite able to portray so many characters interacting together in a single setting without gunking the works up somewhat. So concise, yet light and ebullient, advancing the plot in its own way. It's a supreme pleasure to read.

Dombey's denouement is, to say the least, off. I would have felt satisfied if he'd been shuffled off unceremoniously and forgotten by all the other characters (a little Rob the Grinder pelting would have helped appease the schadenfreude as well). It seems the most logical and fitting punishment for the miserable is the exclusivity of their own company. But Dombey is a grey eminence over the whole so he's probably impossible to wrest from the narrative, and since (oddly enough) he's more human than caricature, couldn't be done in a la Uriah Heep or similar Dickensian villain. On the flip, Florence fleeing the house of this misogynist tyrant of a father is a benign, defenseless, passive gesture which serves to enhance the already serene, ethereal quailties of the work.

aug 14, 2010, 6:52am

I am listening to an unabridged reading of Great Expectations, which has finally, finally overcome my prejudices. (I was made to read it at school and the dislike I felt for it as a teenager has lingered on and contaminated subsequent readings).

Beautiful language, strangely spare, almost, for Dickens... Perhaps that's why it is so often given out as a set text in schools?

And the relationship between Pip and Estella, that balance of misery and compulsion, is just heart-breaking.

feb 1, 2011, 3:12pm

Ah, has no one read any Dickens since August?

Anyway, I'm back with my yearly Dickens read. This year it's Nicholas Nickleby. I'm reading my Dickens TBR in the order they came into my house, so next year it will be Oliver Twist.

feb 2, 2011, 7:28am

I had a festive read of A Christmas Carol on christmas eve...i miss christmas

feb 2, 2011, 8:35am

I read The Pickwick Papers last November. IMHO it is the best Dickens. Or is it the more Gallic? (This being said because here in France Dickens is mostly known for this big, varied, and so funny book...)

I still have to read (in my TBR pile): Our Mutual Friend (next month) and Hard Times.

feb 3, 2011, 7:40am

Just finished a re-read of Nicholas Nickleby, which always cheerybles me up. The episode in the garden where the neighbour launches the cucumbers of love at Mrs Nickleby is a classic.

I'm eyeing Barnaby Rudge warily. It has reached the top of the To Be Read pile., but I'm a bit worried that no-one ever seems to mention it...

feb 3, 2011, 8:10am

Barnaby Rudge is one I have not read yet and, from what I see, it is one of the least read among Dickens' books. I wonder why...

feb 3, 2011, 10:27am

It's great! one of the best openings of any Dickens novels: full of atmosphere.

Look out for Martha Varden, classic portrait of a passive- aggressive, and the meeting of the apprentices, oh it's full of lovely stuff.

feb 5, 2011, 7:52am

I'm reading Nicholas Nickleby and enjoying it immensely.

Redigerat: feb 13, 2011, 2:30pm

Just finished a re-read of Nicholas Nickleby, which always cheerybles me up. The episode in the garden where the neighbour launches the cucumbers of love at Mrs Nickleby is a classic.

Ha ha ha. Cheerybles--love it. I got off to a slow start with Nicholas Nickleby, but I'm a third into it now and having a lot of fun. Haven't made it to the scene you describe yet. My favourite part so far was when the Kenwigs are having their anniversary party and the poor babysitter has "the audacity to burn her hair off." She was such a "malicious little wretch"! Poor thing.

feb 13, 2011, 4:37pm

A recent re-read of Great Expectations left me rather bored. Nicholas Nickleby was much more fun!

feb 13, 2011, 4:48pm

I've always regretted I shall never see Miss Petowker (of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane) perform The Blood Drinker's Burial.

feb 14, 2011, 12:28pm

#149 AuntieCatherine, if you ever find a way, count me in! I need that kind of excitement in my life.

mar 12, 2011, 6:04am

I've finished Nicholas Nickleby, finding it a very satisfying read.

mar 24, 2011, 12:15pm

Just finished Barnaby Rudge, and I haven't quite decided whether I like it or not...

There is some incredibly powerful writing in the riot scenes, and some quite hellish and haunting imagery. Those scenes have to be as strong as anything Dickens ever wrote.

I don't know why my response is lukewarm... Something about the characters, I think, didn't quite engage me as much as usual.

mar 25, 2011, 9:31pm

#152 - I suspect a major problem is Barnaby. He's supposed to be mad but he's just "poetic" mad, a lot of suspiciously literary language plus plot-convenient irresponsibility. Dickens' original intention to make Gabriel Varden and is family the centre of the drama was a better idea IMO.

Also Dolly Varden was adored by the Victorians - I just want to slap her.

mar 27, 2011, 7:21am

I'm now reading Charles Dickens' Best Stories edited by Morton Dauwen Zabel and enjoying dipping into some of Dickens' shorter works.

mar 29, 2011, 7:26am

#153 Dolly Varden, adored by the Victorians? That's interesting. She has to be a strong contender for the most slap-worthy character in Dickens.

mar 29, 2011, 7:33am

I'm now reading "Our Mutual Friend". But, as I remember having struggled through the many different characters in "Bleak House", to the point that I had to refer once or twice to Wikipedia (I read rather slowly), I have begun to keep a detailed list of characters, chapter after chapter. Just in case Dickens refers on page 900 to someone on page 10...

Did anybody here already try that?

mar 29, 2011, 3:34pm

# 155 - apparently. I don't understand it either, but you used to be able to buy a kind of bonnet called a Dolly Varden and a Dolly Varden dress, printed flowery material over a contrasting coloured underskirt.

Redigerat: apr 18, 2011, 4:45pm

I'm new here, so my apologies for going on a bit in this first post.

I've just finished Bleak House. I didn't remember until about 3/4 of the way through that I'd wanted to keep a list, since the edition I was reading didn't have a "cast of characters" at the front. Fortunately the editions I read of Our Mutual Friend and Nicholas Nickleby both had a cast list at the beginning of the book, which were invaluable. (Coincidentally, those two books are tied for my favorite Dickens books.)

The next time I start a Dickens book without a list of characters, I'll either keep one of my own, or keep a pad of sticky notes handy to insert (with names written on them) on pages where a new character is introduced, so I can easily thumb back to the spot when needed.

I'm currently on a brief Dickens hiatus, having read (consumed?) 10 of his novels, three of them twice, in the past 3 years. Am now reading Steinbeck's Cannery Row, a very quick read, and will follow that with The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel by David Mitchell. A friend tipped me off about this one -- she read it in an adult ed course and said that its similarity to a Dickens read was raised in class. So I'm curious to read it.

After that, I'm torn between re-reading Barnaby Rudge, which I read early on in my Dickens binge, and Dombey and Son, one of the few I haven't read yet.

I remember struggling through the first half of Rudge, then suddenly it took off and I was hooked. But I've talked to enough people who say, "Barnaby Rudge, ewww," that I feel the need to re-read and re-evaluate it. Plus my local chapter of the Dickens Fellowship is about to start the book (they picked it out of a hat--imagine!) and I may want to pop in and join the discussion from time to time.

What got me on the Dickens binge was watching Little Dorrit on PBS. I went to the library, picked out Our Mutual Friend, and was hooked.

apr 18, 2011, 5:20pm

Some happily married couples I can think of are:
The Boffins in Our Mutual Friend.
Caddy Jellyby and Prince Turveydrop in Bleak House.
And, despite what I thought of the marriage (and Dora), David Copperfield and Dora Spenlow were very happy.
Also, my bets are on Tim Linkinwater and Miss La Creevy in Nicholas Nickleby.

My candidates for the most dysfunctional "marriages":
The Lammles in Our Mutual Friend, a marriage right out of Sartre's No Exit
The Wilfers in Our Mutual Friend
Jenny Wren and 'Mr. Dolls' in Our Mutual Friend, a "marriage" in that the father's behavior turns his daughter into a shrill mothering "wife"
The Jellybys in Bleak House

apr 23, 2011, 7:33am

#158 LPLimon - I just finished Nicholas Nickleby fairly recently and loved it also.

Thanks for the list of characters idea and the recommendation for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Sounds like one I'm going to need to read.

I haven't read either Dombey and Son or Barnaby Rudge yet so I can't help you there.

I've heard of the Dickens Fellowship and looked it up online, but haven't had any personal experience with it. It sounds like it would be fun.

Welcome to the group. Happy reading whatever you pick.

apr 24, 2011, 10:50pm

I'm re-reading Hard Times for These Times, this time as an audio book. I have to admit I'm having a hard time getting into it, but I think this is partially because I don't find the reader on this particular version very interesting.

feb 14, 2012, 1:35pm

Back for my yearly Dickens read. This time around, it's Oliver Twist, and I'm happy to say that I'm enjoying it more than I expected I would.

aug 29, 2012, 12:31am

About six chapters into Dombey and Son. Great, of course!

sep 18, 2012, 2:45am

> 163 I plan to read Dombey and Son as soon as I finish Our Mutual Friend, which I am enjoying so far. I love the setting, in the foggy Docklands of East London. Reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes story. And I really wish I could drop in to the 'Six Jolly Fellowship Porters' for a pint. Or some burnt sherry.

sep 18, 2012, 10:43pm

what about some boiling brandy, like Quilp drinks in The Old Curiosity Shop? Yikes!

sep 19, 2012, 12:58am

Yes! We should start a thread: 'Favourite Food or Drink from a Dickens Novel'!

sep 19, 2012, 9:11am

great idea!

as long as there is no gruel. Yuck.

sep 19, 2012, 10:03am

I can't think of a favorite food/drink from a Dickens novel offhand, but on a somewhat recent trip to London, we stopped in for lunch at the George Inn, which was a place that Dickens used to frequent - as well as Shakespeare in an earlier time. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_George_Inn,_Southwark) Quite tasty food there!!

sep 19, 2012, 11:46am

I recall a rum punch that sounded like a lot of fun, I think it was in Copperfield, but I am not sure.

Redigerat: sep 19, 2012, 3:48pm

There's that famous rack punch that Jos Sedley overindulges in...

sep 19, 2012, 4:38pm

There's a bit in Nicholas Nickleby where the hero stops off somewhere and has a *pint* of sherry. Was it weaker back then? I can think of few things more revolting to contemplate than a pint of sherry

sep 19, 2012, 4:48pm

Wow, a pint would be a lot...

sep 19, 2012, 9:20pm

oh my god, I just put on four kilos reading the article! Mutton stuffed with oysters? ew.

sep 19, 2012, 11:45pm

Hm, yeah. I don't know about the 'mutton stuffed with oysters', either. But some of the other dishes sound mouthwateringly good. Does anyone know of a restaurant in England that still serves that kind of traditional English cuisine? Next time (if ever) I visit England I'll go check it out.

okt 1, 2012, 11:59am

I'm planning to re-read Oliver Twist soon, then follow it with the new Pratchett novel Dodger. I know Pratchett 'distorts' literary references for his own universe, but it should be surreal.

okt 8, 2012, 11:37pm

I just finished Our Mutual Friend. It was ok, but I didn't like the characters as much as in The Old Curiosity Shop and some of his other novels.

okt 9, 2012, 1:42am

I'm listening to Hard Times, read by Martin Jarvis. Not as easy as to get into the plot, but the asides as descriptions of Coketown and Facts are interesting in themselves.

okt 9, 2012, 4:17am

#177 and 178: Our Mutual Friend is finally my favourite Dickens, Hard Times my worst ever, very close to A Tale of Two Cities in which I never could get into the plot...

okt 9, 2012, 8:44pm

>179 Pepys: That's funny. I didn't like Hard Times either- especially in the beginning (it improves). But A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favourites, although it's easy to forget that Dickens wrote it, as it is so different from his other novels.

Dickens sometimes hints that he could have written a great adventure story, if he'd tried. The beginning of Little Dorrit, in Marseilles, reminds me of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, which incidentally also began in that city. And A Tale of Two Cities, in parts, sounds like The Scarlet Pimpernel. Then, of course, there is The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which he unfortunately died before finishing.

I mean, I like Little Dorrit, but after the excitement of the Marseilles chapters, which seem to suggest a very different kind of novel, returning to London almost seems like a let-down, and a return to (what was for Dickens) the familiar and safe.

okt 10, 2012, 5:10am

#180: To be honest, it might be that my disliking A Tale of Two Cities is due to my bad command of English. There are too much mysteries and understatements in this book, which prevent it to be easily followed by a foreigner reading the original English text.

I also found that the atmosphere of the French Revolution was not properly rendered, and the story finally sounds false and unreal. (But this is a common feature to many works of Dickens's; afraid to write this here: I might be excluded from this group :-)

okt 10, 2012, 8:54am

Pepys, go stand in the corner. How dare you!!! Bloody foreigners.

okt 10, 2012, 9:22am

You noticed however, tomcatMurr, that Dickens is included in my "Favorite authors" list... (I must be a kind of masochist.)

okt 11, 2012, 11:48am

Pepys - I've read 5 or 6 Dickens novels, and The Tale of Two Cities was my least favourite. I had expected it to the best. There were a few really good bits, but overall I found it didn't click with me. And I have an English Lit degree. So good for you for reading it, and don't be so hard on yourself.

okt 11, 2012, 1:27pm

I am currently reading Sketches by Boz having dipped in and out of it for years. This time I am going to read the lot. The series called "scenes" is particularly interesting in evoking the London of Dickens younger years. Walking the streets of the city he observes everything from quarrelling hackneycab drivers to second hand clothes shops. In "Characters" we see the beginnings of his fiction and creation of comic figures. These short pieces bear the marks of 'prentice work' but are fascinating as indications of what was to come. I am not sure why I've taken so long to get to grips with this book but it's definitely a worthwhile read.

okt 15, 2012, 3:03pm

I haven't read much Dickens--only Oliver Twist in college, I'm afraid!--but I recently read a version of his travelogue, Pictures from Italy, which I really enjoyed. The one I read is a selection of his essays from the travelogue, and includes colorful collages inspired by his diary by Livia Signorini. I really liked it, and it was a side of Dickens' life I hadn't heard anything about. I've been to Italy twice now and reading his travelogue felt like I was transported back. I thought he captured the "essence" (to be corny) of Italy really beautifully.

nov 29, 2012, 8:28am

I started my Dickens-project in november last year. So far I've read Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge and The Old Curiosity Shop (have also read Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, though that was many years ago).

Surprisingly, my favourite so far is Barnaby Rudge. My least favourite is The Old Curiosity Shop, that is the only one I didn't like at all. I love the atmosphere in Barnaby and I love that it's not quite as sentimental as some of his other books. The characters seem more dynamic in this book than in the other books I've read. The main characters in The Old Curiosity Shop were either good or bad, there seemed to be little or no depth to them, with a few exceptions (most notably the grandfather).

I just started Little Dorrit and will probably continue with David Copperfield, Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend. I'm looking forward to seeing which book or books that will take Barnaby Rudge's place as my favourite(s). I assume that one or more will, since I've yet to read the great ones, like Bleak House, David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities. But we'll see.

nov 30, 2012, 12:50am

>187 bergenslabb: You've got me inspired to read Barnaby Rudge...it's next up for me. I think my least favorite was The Old Curiosity Shop, too, except for Dick Swiveller--he cracked me up. My favorite is Bleak House, followed by Little Dorrit. The only ones I haven't read are Barnaby Rudge, Dombey & Son, Tale of Two Cities, Our Mutual Friend and Mystery of Edwin Drood.

nov 30, 2012, 9:50pm

I'm reading Our Mutual Friend aloud to my wife, which is probably a very different experience of the book than reading it silently to myself. We're enjoying it. She loves it when I read aloud to her.

mar 26, 2013, 2:49pm

I'm re-reading Oliver Twist with intent to read all (4) of the modern books that address the further adventures of the Artful Dodger. Starting with Pratchett.

mar 27, 2013, 8:23am

Just finished Bleak House and enjoyed it enen with the "bleakness"

apr 2, 2013, 1:11pm

Just finished 'Our Mutual Friend'...just started, 'Little Dorrit'!

apr 2, 2013, 4:54pm

Currently reading A Tale of Two Cities. It's one of the few I haven't read (Barnaby Rudge, Dombey and Son and Our Mutual Friend being the others).

apr 3, 2013, 9:26am

Began 'Our Mutual Friend' at the weekend.

apr 9, 2013, 11:41am

Good pick, N11284! You won't regret it! Very satisfying and grand. Levels upon levels upon levels. Also very much enjoyed the endnotes and preface in my Oxford Classics edition.

Redigerat: apr 13, 2013, 11:53pm

Man, I'd love to live for a while in the world of Charles Dickens if only to get away from the constant, "yo, dude" and "sup, dude" of our own era.

maj 4, 2013, 10:02pm

I recently decided to re-read A Tale of Two Cities, but may wind up putting it back down to read something of his which I haven't read before.

jun 1, 2013, 10:43pm

I'm back to the first Dickens I ever read (many years ago): The Pickwick Papers. Reads almost like a YA novel to me now.

jun 2, 2013, 8:49pm

I might have to pick up The Pickwick Papers -seems like a good summertime read, too if it's YA-ish !:)

aug 24, 2014, 5:24pm

I just started Pickwick Papers. Wonderfully silly.

aug 24, 2014, 10:25pm

Military manuvers and coach driving. Two of the funniest scenes ever written!

aug 25, 2014, 12:45pm

I read Pickwick Papers earlier in the summer. Brilliant stuff.

aug 25, 2014, 1:27pm

Every time I think of Pickwick now, I remember Chapter Nineteen about the hunting party. I'm reading him in the order he published, one annually, and I'm only as far as The Old Curiosity Shop so it isn't saying much, but Pickwick is my favourite so far.

feb 26, 2016, 5:17am

Recently finished David Copperfield..great.

Redigerat: feb 26, 2016, 6:55am

Finishing Bleak House soon, and it's excellent. My favorite is still David Copperfield, and my least favorite so far is The Old Curiosity Shop.

feb 28, 2016, 12:36pm

I read Bleak House in December and re-read Tale of Two Cities in January.

mar 2, 2016, 4:06pm

Hello all,

A bit OT—I have a funny question: I've just refurbished my bookshelves, and find myself with my Dickens shelf (8 vols) ready to accommodate one more volume (but only one). I'm eying two books on the 2nd-hand market: Dombey and Son and Nicholas Nickleby. It seems, from what I read above, that Dombey and Son would be a good choice. But, just to be sure, could those of you who've read both books give their advices?

To let you know my tastes: I best liked David Copperfield and Pickwick Papers; I disliked Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities.

mar 3, 2016, 3:41am

based on your tastes, Pepys, I would go for Nicholas Nickleby. Seems to me you would like that one more.

mar 10, 2016, 3:33pm

>208 tomcatMurr: Thank you for the advice. I take the plunge with Nicholas Nickleby.

Redigerat: mar 12, 2016, 4:59am

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

Redigerat: mar 12, 2016, 4:55am


mar 14, 2016, 8:07am

Just started Martin Chuzzlewit and like its catchy opening. Illustrious ancestors in the form of Adam and Eve, lol.

nov 2, 2018, 10:00am

Reviving this old thread. I have just started Dombey and Son, the last Dickens novel I've never read. Finding it a bit tough to get into, to be honest.

nov 2, 2018, 11:08am

I finished Martin in April of that year, read Dombey last year (stick with it, it's a good one), and this year I'm nearing the end of David Copperfield.

Redigerat: nov 2, 2018, 4:16pm

No Dickens right at the moment, but Dombey and Son is high up "on my list."* The Victorian novel Iʻm reading currently is
Anthony Trollopeʻs Barchester Towers.

*The "list" doesnʻt exist as a physical pile or on paper -- only in my head.

nov 24, 2018, 1:13pm

further to my message 213, I have now finished Dombey and Son. Found it rather a struggle. Now that I have read all 15 Dickens full length novels, for me they divide into three categories (the order within each category is not significant):

Favourites I have already re-read and/or would re-read again:

Great Expectations
Tale of Two Cities
David Copperfield
Nicholas Nickleby
Pickwick Papers
Bleak House

Not particular favourites, but ones I will definitely read again:

Oliver Twist
Old Curiosity Shop
Barnaby Rudge
Hard Times
Mystery of Edwin Drood

Ones I struggled with and am unlikely to read again:

Martin Chuzzlewit
Dombey and Son
Little Dorrit
Our Mutual Friend

nov 26, 2018, 7:49am

>216 john257hopper:, I've only read half of them so far, but I can see already that I'll have a different list. I agree with you about Copperfield, Pickwick, Oliver and Barnaby.

So far I don't have that third category at all ... well, maybe Curiosity Shop is down there. I'm kind of siding with Oscar Wilde over that one.

nov 28, 2018, 7:37pm

>216 john257hopper: That's interesting. I agree with you about Great Expectations and a Tale of Two Cities (which I have reread) but Our Mutual Friend is also one of my favourites.

dec 3, 2018, 7:33am

Started reading yesterday, for the first time, Nicholas Nickleby

dec 3, 2018, 8:32am

>219 LesMiserables: My preferred.

dec 3, 2018, 8:52am

>219 LesMiserables:, a fun thing to note as you read it is the running theme of everyone wearing masks, i.e. not acting like themselves.

dec 4, 2018, 4:25am

>220 Pepys:, >221 Cecrow:

I'm early in, near the accident with the carriage, and the story of the Black Friar being retold and I could swear this was classic Chaucer!

dec 22, 2018, 3:54pm

Iʻm reminded by this thread that Iʻve been intending to
reserve a public libraryʻs Dombey and Son, so thanks.
B T W, "The Story of the Black Friar" is new to me and doesnʻt appear in LT --
SHOULD, if it is a whole book; is it?

dec 23, 2018, 2:52am

>223 rolandperkins:

A story narrated within Nicholas Nickleby.

dec 23, 2018, 6:18am

Thanks, LesMiserables.

dec 26, 2018, 2:44am

>216 john257hopper: Hmmm, interesting to categorize the novels in this way.

I have 3 that I have yet to read:

Dombey & Son
Barnaby Rudge
Mystery of Edwin Drood

Of the 12 I have read, I would group them as follows:

My favorites--all read multiple times:

Bleak House
Little Dorrit
Our Mutual Friend
Nicholas Nickleby

Ones I have read twice and would consider reading again:

David Copperfield
Great Expectations
Oliver Twist
Hard Times

Ones I struggled with, read only once, and probably will not re-read:

Tale of Two Cities
Old Curiosity Shop
Martin Chuzzlewit
Pickwick Papers

Thanks! That was an interesting exercise!

dec 26, 2018, 3:26am

>226 kac522:

Nice to hear your thoughts. As mentioned above I read a Christmas Carol every year, and it hardly counts as a novel despite its beauty; however, I've read Great Expectations a coupe of times and would read it again.

I've heard mention by many that the Pickwick Papers is a popular favourite, and that Little Dorrit is a fabulous novel.

Dickens is one author who I know I have neglected despite his wonderful writing, which I can't account for: others include Trollope, Twain and James.

Redigerat: dec 26, 2018, 5:18am

Worth a look

What are Dickens’s great lessons about Christmas? It seems from A Christmas Carol, one is generosity and a heightened attention to poverty.

A heightened attention to a bit of the world our eyes normally gloss over. That includes poverty, but it also includes the people around us we take for granted. That might begin with family, but it shouldn’t end with family. I suspect Dickens knew that Christmas then was a way of concentrating our attention on not so much trying to draw morals, as trying to encourage us to look at the world as a novelist might look at it. In other words, with attention to detail.

For me it's all about God's mercy and our redemption. It's St Paul, St Dismas and St Augustine.

“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” - St. Augustine

dec 26, 2018, 5:25am

>kac522- I found your break-down interesting. a few years ago I re had read all Dickens novels bar one and that was 'Barnaby Rudge.' I had sensed that it would be a struggle and it was, somehow never coming to life for me.

dec 26, 2018, 10:34am

>227 LesMiserables: Yes, I've read A Christmas Carol and some of his other Christmas stories, but the Scrooge story is the best.

I think Bleak House is my absolute favorite, with Little Dorrit right behind. One that I struggled with, but might reconsider reading again is Pickwick Papers. It's so different from the others; more a collection of tales or stories, it didn't appeal to me at the time because I was expecting a full novel. It did have some hilarious parts.

>228 LesMiserables: Thinking back on all his novels that I have read, I think they all have some aspect of looking at the world around us with different eyes. All of the books have some meaning or moral for us. He makes clear distinctions between goodness and evil.

>229 Maura49: Barnaby Rudge is next on my list to read. I understand it's based on a real event. Many years back I tried to read Dombey and Son, but I didn't get very far. I am hoping another try will be successful.

dec 26, 2018, 10:46am

>227 LesMiserables:, >228 LesMiserables: You might want to try Trollope. Start with the The Warden; it is short, and if it's you're cuppa, then move on to the rest of the Barsetshire books. Trollope is another author who cleverly inserts moral issues into a seemingly simple tale. Not quite as black and white as Dickens, it's more about average people doing the right thing in every day situations.

dec 26, 2018, 12:48pm

I have just read this seasonal book which may be of interest:
www.librarything.com/work/19781255/reviews/149386978 - a fictional recreation of Dickens's writing of A Christmas Carol.

Redigerat: dec 27, 2018, 5:15am

I read A Christmas Carol for the first time yesterday. I have watched many of the movies made. I downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

dec 27, 2018, 7:36am

>223 rolandperkins:

Did you enjoy it? What are your thoughts?

dec 27, 2018, 9:47am

I've also just (re-)read The Chimes. While it lacks the subtlety and wide popular appeal of A Christmas Carol, it contains a stark and no-holds-barred depiction of grinding poverty and class division.

jan 7, 2019, 4:35pm

Obtained Dombey and Son after some weeks of
waiting for it from our local library. In the meantime\caught
a couple of negative reviews on LT; but I'll still give it
a try.

jan 7, 2019, 4:37pm

My next Dickens will probably be a re-read of Oliver Twist as its been some 12-13 years since I first read it.

Redigerat: jan 7, 2019, 6:25pm

My (ca. 73-year old) memories of O.T. tell me
that your 12-13 year old memories will be
activated -- probably along with some insights
missed the first time around.

jan 15, 2019, 4:55am

Part way through Nicholas Nickleby (for the first time) and just come upon the Cheeryble brothers: one of those precious moments in literature when you feel as if you've just met friends!

jan 15, 2019, 9:13am

>239 LesMiserables:, iirc you can safely stick with that impression. :)

jan 15, 2019, 11:26am

>239 LesMiserables: Yep, and I think they may have been based on real people.