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Claire

Who loves Dickens?

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Here's the cached continuation.

 

Cathy

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sylvia

I'm coming late to this thread, but then, I'm coming late to Dickens.

 

It was almost a point of pride that I hadn't read him. I'd been put off by supposedly reading A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expect

However, I was enjoying the recent dramatisation of Bleak House so much that I took the copy of Oliver Twist (given as a present and never opened) off the shelf. Once I'd started it, I found I couldn't put it down. I'm now reading Bleak House and have Great Expectations ready to start as soon as I've finished it.

 

 

I'm also reading and enjoying Oliver Twist at the moment - shall I start a new thread?

__________________

 

 

#32 4th January 2006, 08:37 PM

megustaleer

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cathy

I'm also reading and enjoying Oliver Twist at the moment - shall I start a new thread?

 

All the major Dickens novels deserve their own threads, so if you are reading/have read one and have something to say, go ahead and start a thread. Someone is bound to respond at some point

 

 

#33 5th January 2006, 10:00 AM

Cathy

 

Will get to it...once i've finished...

 

 

#34 16th September 2006, 09:55 AM

Barblue

 

... although belatedly. I think Hard Times is also a good way into Dickens. It is not too large and my personal interest is that Dickens did his research for the novel in Preston, Lancashire, which is not a million miles from where I live. I am an incomer to Lancashire and have been fascinated by the history of the area. The mills and the life they created in these mill towns still resonantes to a certain extent. Some of the mill buildings are still standing and it is possible to get a real feel for what life was like in the narrow streets and cobbled ginnels adjacent to those one-time dark satanic mills. Conversely, some of the grand buildings, both civic and personal, erected as monuments to the fortunes made by the mill owners stand as testament to the blood, sweat and tears of the workforce of that time.

 

I have only just come across this thread and although it has not been contributed to since January, probably because many have been takn up with the thread on Great Expectations. I thought I would leave my comment anyway.

 

 

#35 17th September 2006, 05:55 PM

David

 

The relative shortness of Hard Times is one aspect that could make it a useful introduction, though it is slightly anomalous in the general canon. Humour (one of the aspects that can make Dickens so enjoyable) is more thin on the ground and the focus on industrialism takes Dickens well away from his usual haunts and subject matter in London and the Home Counties. That's also what makes it particularly interesting for anyone who already enjoys Dickens.

 

Stephen Blackpool's tragic story is very gritty and moving, whilst I find the anatomisation of education fascinating since here Dickens looks not so much at the harsh conditions but instead the subject matter: the intellectual sterility of learning 'facts' as opposed to freeing up the mind and using the imagination - summed up in Sissy Jupe and the circus. Educationally this was pretty far-sighted!

 

It's a novel that lacks some of the balancing warmth of his other books and I was left without too many characters with whom I felt any great affinity, but that doesn't diminish its achievement; it simply does something rather different from the Dickensian norm.

 

 

#36 17th September 2006, 10:27 PM

Phoebus

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by David

Hard Times is a novel that lacks some of the balancing warmth of his other books and I was left without too many characters with who I felt any great affinity

 

 

I quite agree.

 

As you might know, I'm an absolute fan of Dickens. I'm wading through his books and writings with the intention of eventually having finished reading everything that he's written.

 

Having read nearly all of the well known titles, I set about tackling Hard Times in my comfy chair in front of a warm fire with a mug of tea (an habitual setting for me with his novels.) And the opening chapter of the opening paragraph started with pure excellence. And then I started on Chapter 2 and I'm sorry to say that it was progressively downhill from there.

 

Of all the Dickens novels that I have read it is the one that might have been titled Hard Work.

 

I have so many favourites but one that I might recommend as a first read would be Martin Chuzzlewit. Admittedly, longer than some others (surely a positive) it is one of his most amusing in my opinion and encapsulates freezing weather, warm fires, satire and memorable characters. Reading his comments on England and the US shows how little times have changed.

 

For full effect, start it when the weather starts getting cold.

 

I started reading Dickens in my late teens and moved to London later but it does help to know the great metropolis which figures so heavily in his books. I read Bleak House when working in Lincoln's Inn and I would walk past the buildings that he described for his characters on a daily basis. I was there with Mr Tulkinghorn, Krook, Lady Jane and the rest of them. I swear it.

 

The greatest.

 

 

#37 5th October 2006, 01:51 PM

dumpling

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Slothrop

I feel that I can write as a Dickens lover, having just finished re-reading Chuzzlewit (which is not one of the better ones).

 

I'm in the middle of Martin Chuzzlewit right now and am loving it. I read all the obvious ones in my younger days, but this one slipped through the net. I'd forgotten how satisfying Dickens is. I'm generally a very fast reader and am used to finishing a book off in a couple of days, so it's sort of nice to let myself slow down and savour every word. Maybe it's just me but, even if I wanted to, I don't think I could read Dickens quickly.

 

#38 14th January 2007, 02:56 PM

katrina

 

It's good to read this thread as I'm really struggling with Nicholas Nickleby at the moment, I'm 100 pages in and I've only just started to get really interested in it, it has taken Nicholas 100 pages to get to the school, hopefully it'll pick up from now.

 

As the book is so big with such tiny print I'm going to read shorter or easier novels alongside it, I do a lot of my reading before I go to sleep in bed and this book is not really made for tired eyes! But I will perservere, I loved his other novels - with the exception of A Christmas Carol so I'm sure I won't be let down.

 

#39 14th January 2007, 03:28 PM

Hazel

 

I'm in sympathy with you Kat, I am reading Dombey & Son just now and as much as I am enjoying it, it is hard work and after 523 pages I can't quite believe I have 402 still to go!

 

 

#40 14th January 2007, 03:43 PM

Artegall

 

Quote:

The relative shortness of Hard Times is one aspect that could make it a useful introduction, though it is slightly anomalous in the general canon. Humour (one of the aspects that can make Dickens so enjoyable) is more thin on the ground and the focus on industrialism takes Dickens well away from his usual haunts and subject matter in London and the Home Counties. That's also what makes it particularly interesting for anyone who already enjoys Dickens.

 

 

Meh. As I posted elsewhere, I had to teach this to a bunch of 6th formers once, and they hated it. I couldn't pretend it was anything other than a bad novel, as they were a bright lot. The problems are manifold: characters with whom its hard to sympathise, a plot that is totally overrun by the intellectual conceit (the attack on Utilitarianism is far better suited to a piece of journalism - such attacks by Dickens, such as Chancery in Bleak House - only work when they're an aspect of the novel, not its overall point), overblown sentimentality at its worst (of course this is a weakness that's in all of Dickens and is down to the readership of his time; one tends to get used to it but the death of Mr Blackpool has even the tenderest souls reaching for their sick buckets). That said, it does boast some of his most interesting writing in terms of descriptive passages (opening sentences set the tone - what sort of a genius would come up with a pairing like 'commodius cellarage'?), metonymy (Hands) and metaphor. But it ain't enough.

 

However, in answer to this thread. I LOVE Dickens. At his best - Bleak House, Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend, he's comfortably the best English novelist ever to draw breath. I can't think of many 20/21st Century writers who wouldn't consider him an influence to some extent.

 

 

#41 14th January 2007, 04:26 PM

Seraphina

 

Unfortunately I binged on Dickens last year, and reached a standstill with Nicholas Nickleby, even though I was really enjoying it I just couldn't read it any more. I read it in bits and pieces in between other books just to get it finished.

 

I read Dombey and Son just before starting on Nicholas Nickleby and didn't enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed other Dickens novels - it wasn't that I didn't enjoy it, I just thought it dragged on a bit - I should have known then not to start another one really. I had read Great Expectations, Bleak House, David Copperfield and Dombey and Son one after the other.....

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And...

 

cripple creek

 

Mmmmm...Dickens... yep Nicholas Nickeleby is a truly dull novel in places but (and I agree with Peter Ackroyd here) in the letter written by Fanny Squires after Nickleby attacks the proprietor of the orphanage or what ever you want to call it you have one of the funniest things ever written in the English language.

 

For someone like Dickens who wrote so, so much you have to forgive and forget...basically it's up to your attention span as to whether you are willing to put up with some dross (personally, I think Oliver Twist is one of the most boring novels ever written and Little Dorritt is, in my own opinion, one of the most moving and amusing novels ever written in the English language so you have to tolerate this very, very strange writer). Anyone, who doesn't enjoy David Copperfield is, in my view, a bit weird.

 

 

#43 15th January 2007, 01:59 PM

Grammath

 

Having not read and Dickens since secondary school, when we covered "Oliver Twist", "Hard Times" and "Bleak House", if I manage to keep 2007's reading resolution to read more 19th century literature there will definitely be some Dickens on the list this year.

 

In preparation, I indulged in the 3 for 2 Waterstone's were running on Penguin Classics editions and got "Great Expectations", "David Copperfield" and "Little Dorrit".

 

#44 15th January 2007, 02:57 PM

David

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Grammath

In preparation, I indulged in the 3 for 2 Waterstone's were running on Penguin Classics editions and got "Great Expectations", "David Copperfield" and "Little Dorrit".

 

 

Good on you for giving it such a determined go, Gram - I really hope you enjoy them. You've certainly picked three of the best. You've probably noticed already, but Barblue is reading Little Dorrit and Phoebus might be doing the same but hasn't posted for a while, so you might like to join in with that. Alternatively there's been lots of discussion of Great Expectations with a glut of recent readers!

 

 

#45 20th January 2007, 02:12 PM

mvr_moorthy

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Claire

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?

 

 

I came across a few people who found Dickens tough-going, but personally I like him very much and place him among the four alltime greats of world literature. Initially I had some problems but I persisted and finally it's a great experience! He is a versatile writer and so we can pick a selection of his work according to our taste. Also individual parts of his novels can be read in isolation and still be enjoyed as they are anecdotal in nature.Following is a sample of a few such interesting pieces:

 

Pickwick Papers : Chapters 5,7,32,33 ( Humour)

David Copperfield: Chapters 8,9 ( emotion and sentiment )

Nicholas Nickleby : Chapters 9-12 ( Humour and social satire)

Hard Times : Chapters 1-2 ( Irony and social comment )

Then one can try "Old Curiosity Shop" and come across one of Dickens' most touching and lovable characters Little Nell ! Yes . these are some of the things I enjoyed a lot and they retain their freshness even in rereadings.

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Well done for resurrecting this one David, I was just off to look for it myself. It's one of the threads that I've found most inspiring on BGO. So much so that I'm half way through Our Mutual Friend and very much enjoying it, albeit at a slow and steady pace. Much like a fine wine, I like to think! Although, that analogy doesn't hold true for me... :rolleyes:

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Hear hear to Mungus's comments - about resurrecting this thread I mean - and the wine too for that matter. This has been one of the greatest inspirational threads for me since I came to BGO. That and the one about Great Expectations which made me become a contributor and subscriber.

 

I am almost at the end of Little Dorrit and am loving the humour which abounds, feel I am there with the characters and just hate putting the book down last thing at night.

 

I have several Dickens sitting on my TBR pile and am undecided which to pick up as my next Dickens read. David Copperfield is tempting, but then again so it Nicholas Nickleby and I simply must read The Old Curiosity Shop again soon. :thinking:

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I've got David Copperfield upstairs (fnarr fnarr) and I'm awaiting delivery of the (abridged, mere 624 pages) biography of Dickens by Peter Ackroyd. I snapped it up cheap on ebay.

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#38 14th January 2007, 02:56 PM

katrina

 

It's good to read this thread as I'm really struggling with Nicholas Nickleby at the moment, I'm 100 pages in and I've only just started to get really interested in it, it has taken Nicholas 100 pages to get to the school, hopefully it'll pick up from now.

 

As the book is so big with such tiny print I'm going to read shorter or easier novels alongside it, I do a lot of my reading before I go to sleep in bed and this book is not really made for tired eyes! But I will perservere, I loved his other novels - with the exception of A Christmas Carol so I'm sure I won't be let down.

Well it seems such a long time ago since I posted this message. My reading of Nicholas Nickleby eventually got down to one chapter an evening in the bath, and now its finally finished. :D

At times it was a real struggle then in other moments really enjoyable, and of course Mr Dickens tied everything up nicely at the end.

I'm glad I perservered, but I think Banaby Rudge and Bleak House may sit on my TBR pile for a while longer. I liked having a seperate book which I dipped into whilst in the bath or just waiting for the kettle to boil, seems a good way to tackle some of those book which just sit there gathering dust. So, I am going to tackle my Children's Classics' collection, which I have had since the age of 10ish, shamefully I have only read The Secret Garden in those 16yrs :o . I'm going to start with Treasure Island (much less daunting than N.N).

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I think Banaby Rudge and Bleak House may sit on my TBR pile for a while longer.

I'd leave Barnaby Rudge there for quite a bit longer if I were you, Katrina. You'd be better choosing virtually any other Dickens ahead of it. Not that it's an especially bad book, but it's Dickens while he's still finding his feet and he's pretty much got his shoes on the wrong ones in this novel. It's a worthy historical novel but without the sure skill of A Tale of Two Cities. If you're particularly interested in Dickens it's worthwhile, otherwise it isn't typical of him at all and might put you off venturing into others.

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So, Dickens fans, what do you think about this?

 

Dickens World

 

To be honest, I find it difficult to have a firm response without seeing at first hand what it's actually like. I'm certainly not averse to the principle of creating something that uses populist approaches to attract interest in a writer such as Dickens. If it takes him off the shelf and gets youngsters seeing him in any other way than a dry-as-dust irrelevancy then I'm all in favour. A lot does depend on how they do it, though, and over-trivialisation would be a concern. If there were some kids' versions of the books at the end it could be great.

 

If they end up riding Little Dorrit's Big Dipper, though, I'll think again!

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I`m in two minds, David.

I think you are right that it depends how it turns out (there probably will be a Big Dipper named after a character). My doubt would be that although it will introduce more people to Dickens and his world, will this encourage them to read his novels? If it just leads to more people knowing who he was is that good enough?

Its a case of wait and see.

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I think it is kind of fun actually. It's not as if it is going to diminish the novels in anyway and if it inspires people to pick up a book then it can't be a bad thing. I may even plan a trip there one day myself and have a look.

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We'd better not organise a BGO outing to Dickens' World, as this:

Visitors to the £62m attraction can sample the Great Expectations boat ride, themed around the escape of the convict Magwitch and featuring dyed-brown water.
could cause some disagreements between members about contrived coincidences :D;)

(see this thread)

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I think it is kind of fun actually. It's not as if it is going to diminish the novels in anyway and if it inspires people to pick up a book then it can't be a bad thing. I may even plan a trip there one day myself and have a look.

I think you have said exactly what I wanted to say about this Hazel. The words 'fun' and 'inspire' capture it all for me.

 

As I have many relatives in that area of Kent, I think it's more than probable that I will be having a look for myself as soon as is possible.

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As David said, we will have to see it before we can really judge. The theme parks I've seen so far (and there aren't that many) wouldn't have inspired me to read anything about the theme. That doesn't mean others won't. However, if they integrate the stories into the rides, people might want to know more about it.

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But surely if the theme park is 'fun' and it just puts the idea of 'fun' and 'Dickens' together, then it just might 'inspire' some of the young (and maybe not so young) people to actually look at his work. Although I do agree that we must all wait and see exactly what they are going to give us as a Theme Park.

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But surely if the theme park is 'fun' and it just puts the idea of 'fun' and 'Dickens' together, then it just might 'inspire' some of the young (and maybe not so young) people to actually look at his work.

 

It could work. The Muppet Christmas Carol, for example, is a great film.

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Their website is here. It includes a few more details of what will be featured.

 

I rather fancy:

 

"A series of 'burlesque' evening dinner shows are being especially created to provide a nightly menu of 'naughty delights' in the 'Free and Easy' Victorian Music Hall."

 

confused0066.gif

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"A series of 'burlesque' evening dinner shows are being especially created to provide a nightly menu of 'naughty delights' in the 'Free and Easy' Victorian Music Hall."

 

 

Holy cow! I'm sold! :D

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From Dickensworld.com -

 

Dickens World will truly offer visitors the ‘day out of a lifetime’.

Dickens World is based on a credible and factual account of Charles Dickens works and the world in which he lived. Working with The Dickens Fellowship great attention has been paid to the authenticity of the time, characters and story lines.

 

Doesn't this sound promising at least? I think it will be a lot of fun - if you can have theme parks based on nothing or the workd of 'Disney', then why not Dickens?

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Doesn't this sound promising at least?

Well, yes, though it would sound more promising if they'd included the apostrophe in "Charles Dickens works"! :rolleyes:

 

Anyway, I'm a bit confused by:

 

"With a host of captivating attractions, Dickens World features one of Europe’s largest dark boat rides, the Haunted house of Ebenezer Scrooge, a state-of-the art animatronic show, Victorian School Room, 4D high definition show and Fagin’s Den."

 

Sorry - 4D? Isn't the fourth dimension time? So this show is actually going to transport you back to Victorian London? Well, even an old curmudgeon like me would have to take his top hat off to that...

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One of the reasons I joined BGO was to talk about Dickens. It's not often in real life you come across someone who has read much more than A Christmas Carol (and quite often, they think they've read it when they've just seen a dozen adaptations!) I hope that doesn't sound snobby, it's just outside of studying literature I haven't come across anyone else who immerses themselves in his books.

 

I'm currently reading Dombey and Son, and it's made me cry. Maybe I'm just a big softy but the point where Paul died, juxtaposed with the imagery of the sea and the evening light glimmering on the wall, I found really touching. Although I don't find Dickens overly sentimental, he does death scenes very well - another favourite one is featured towards the end of Hard Times.

 

I also found Great Expectations a very difficult book to read during the second half. I had to force myself one Sunday afternoon to simply sit down and finish it, because it was dragging on for weeks. Strangely, that doesn't seem to have happened with his other novels. I appreciated the analysis of GE but I didn't appreciate actually reading it - strange (although the first third of the novel I found completely captivating). Dombey & Son is shaping up to be a favourite.

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Do you know MH, I would have said Hard Times was by far the most difficult book to read. I agree the death scene is touching, but the dialect Dickens writes the dialogue in has always come between me and a comfortable read.

 

On the other hand, as you may have seen on your trawl through the thread, I loved Great Expectations and also Little Dorrit. I have to admit Domby & Son is on my TBR (to be read) pile, as is David Copperfield. I am looking forward to getting my teeth into both. Mind you my TBR pile is so vast I am not sure which year I will be able to read it in!

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I had a different exprience with Hard Times. The use of dialect is one of the things I most admired about it - it's a very hard thing to pull off, and I think Dickens managed it. It jarred at first but then it all slotted into place. That might have been because at the time I was studying the use of dialect in Shaw's Pygmalion, so was automatically very interested in its use!

 

I haven't yet read Little Dorrit, but David Copperfield I loved, I hope you enjoy it.

 

What's everyone's favourite Dickens novel, overall? I would have said Oliver Twist but now I'm around halfway through Dombey and Son, I'd say the latter (as long as it keeps my interest as it has done so far). My least favourite was The Pickwick Papers - but I didn't make it to the end, so that might be an unfair judgement.

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