I read the Wordsworth Classics version because it had illustrations and said that it was complete and unabridged. The phrase 'hear me out' was used quite a lot and I wondered if Dickens had actually written that. It certainly seemed to jar with the other more formal prose. I struggled a little bit with the more formal prose but I like to struggle with my reading so enjoyed it all the more.
The story is the life and times of one Nicholas Nickelby. Too long to even surmise here and anyway it's well enough known. The characters (and their names!) were flawless and the story also so. It had a cast of thousands but I didn't need to write them down in order to feel I knew them and their respective roles.
My copy was very long, some 769 pages so it's a time investment, but one worth making, imho.
I know that Dickens is one of the big names of English literature and all that - but whenever he comes up in conversation the only response I hear is people saying, "I know he's supposed to be good.....but I find him really, really hard going"
I'd love to hear from those who do genuinely enjoy reading him. What are the rest of us missing out on? Why is he such a good read?
Have tastes changed, so he's temporarily out of favour? Anyone else struggle with him?
I tend to get stuck after a couple of pages and give up, I'm afraid. Though somehow, I made it all the way through "Great Expectations" and I really enjoyed it - especially the first half with the convict and the moorland and the grave yard. It was wonderful stuff - so why do I struggle with the rest of his novels so much?
Having been encouraged to read this book by the lively discussion about Dickens that have recently taken place on BGO, I feel I should start a new thread. This seems like an onerous responsibility. How to summarise the plot...? Amazon have this neat one-liner:
Anyone who has read this book will realise that this is a succinct but woefully deficient summary of this wonderful, complex novel. I'm (very) slowly getting to know Dickens and his work and I'm hoping that others will enter in to discussion on this book to help me appreciate it more. To me, this seemed like a social commentary, rich with minor characters (caricatures?) allowing Dickens to satirise the extremes of the class system of the time. It explores the effect of money, the lack of it and the desire for it on human nature and human relationships. There are also many examinations of the institution of marriage, both good and bad, and the effects that this has on people. Plenty, in fact to exercise the mind.
The book itself is 900+ pages and I did find it hard going at times, especially the third of the four books into which it is subdivided. By the end, I was keen to find out how it all worked out (and was nicely surprised by the ending) but I really sat and forced myself to get it finished. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy it, just that long books do take a toll on me personally. I did like the way that all of the loose ends were tied up so neatly (which I understand was required of Victorian authors) and that the goodies generally did well and the baddies got their comeuppance in a number of appropriate and amusing ways. There was a lot of humour running through the book, but a fair dose of cynicism too, not a bad thing.
To summarise, a fantastic read, worth sticking with. I will be attempting more Dickens, but a little light reading will do me fine for now.
The Classic Serial adaptation of Dickens' litte known collection of short stories, Mrs Lirriper's Lodgings and Mrs Lirriper's Legacy starts on Sunday 7th October at 3pm on Radio 4, starring Julia McKenzie as Mrs Lirriper and John Fortune as The Major.
Is anyone familiar with this lady, and the stories of her lodgers?
Why are Dickens' short stories not better known?