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Pickwick Papers

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Oh, I laughed out loud when I read of Mr Winkle's response to being threatened the night before:

 

The ill-starred gentleman who had been the unfortunate cause of the unusual noise and disturbance which alarmed the inhabitants of the Royal Crescent in manner and form already described, after passing a night of great confusion and anxiety, left the roof beneath which his friends still slumbered, bound he knew not whither. The excellent and considerate feelings which prompted Mr. Winkle to take this step can never be too highly appreciated or too warmly extolled. 'If,' reasoned Mr. Winkle with himself—'if this Dowler attempts (as I have no doubt he will) to carry into execution his threat of personal violence against myself, it will be incumbent on me to call him out. He has a wife; that wife is attached to, and dependent on him. Heavens! If I should kill him in the blindness of my wrath, what would be my feelings ever afterwards!' This painful consideration operated so powerfully on the feelings of the humane young man, as to cause his knees to knock together, and his countenance to exhibit alarming manifestations of inward emotion. Impelled by such reflections, he grasped his carpet-bag, and creeping stealthily downstairs, shut the detestable street door with as little noise as possible, and walked off.

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I don't agree you should start reading Dickens at 13 - except maybe A Christmas Carol. At that age you're too young and could be put off for life. Start in your 20s - or any time after that.

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I don't agree you should start reading Dickens at 13 - except maybe A Christmas Carol. At that age you're too young and could be put off for life. Start in your 20s - or any time after that.

I was being a little facetious, Heather. It was really a joke about how much there is to read. That said, I first read A Tale of Two Cities at 14/15 and it's the book that really started my love of the classics.

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I was being a little facetious, Heather. It was really a joke about how much there is to read. That said, I first read A Tale of Two Cities at 14/15 and it's the book that really started my love of the classics.

 

Same here, A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield in 5th Form - don't know what you call the classes nowadays. Always remember the English teacher asking us what we thought it meant when someone's sister received a big smack on her cheek from her brother (can't remember the exact point in the book) and none of us could come up with the answer that he gave her a big kiss. Don't know why that stuck in my memory.

:rolleyes:

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Okay. Got the message. I know I ought to have read PP years ago, but you've got me so intrigued that this week (indoors with a cold) I've finally picked up my copy. The fact that it's made me laugh when I'm feeling so unwell it testament to all that's being discussed here. Thanks again BGO for this great suggestion.

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Okay. Got the message. I know I ought to have read PP years ago, but you've got me so intrigued that this week (indoors with a cold) I've finally picked up my copy. The fact that it's made me laugh when I'm feeling so unwell it testament to all that's being discussed here. Thanks again BGO for this great suggestion.
Great! We'll have a little society of honorary Pickwickians here soon enough! :)

 

Hope you feel better soon.

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One of my top ten favourite books has always been Little Women, and Jo March my favourite 'heroine', so I was drawn to reading Pickwick Papers by the March girls' enthusiasm for it.

I had already read and enjoyed the most well known novels, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield etc, so was expecting a particular type of story and was disappointed with PP.

 

This was many years ago, and I don't remember much about it, but I think that PP is very episodic, without a clear narrative line (at least it hadn't emerged by the time I gave up on it), and I was never drawn in to it.

Maybe I will give it another go, now I'm not expecting it to be something it's not.

One day.

When I get to the end of my shelves-full of unread books (which includes many of the books in my "Complete Works" of Dickens :o)

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but I think that PP is very episodic, without a clear narrative line (at least it hadn't emerged by the time I gave up on it), and I was never drawn in to it.
It is very episodic - there are a lot of chapters which could be moved to other places in the book without affecting the story.

But I think the court case and subsequent imprisonment of Mr P (and whatever happens after that, I am only 80% through) provides what we'd now call a narrative arc.

 

 

When I get to the end of my shelves-full of unread books (which includes many of the books in my "Complete Works" of Dickens :o)
lol :)

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It feels slightly odd to be 'spoilering' a story that's getting on for two hundred years old!

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It feels slightly odd to be 'spoilering' a story that's getting on for two hundred years old!
But you are right to do so. It's the same with the London production of The Mousetrap - I have no idea what that is about either.

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Well, I wasn't expecting that! Chapter XLIX,

which advances the narrative not at all, but is instead a perfectly formed time travel tale. Quite a curiosity really, reading a novel like PP feels a little like time travel anyway, so this is like double time travel. And this story does feel like a model for many subsequent time travel tales.

So, do we think Dickens had these little stories "in the drawer" as it were, so if deadline day for the next instalment was due and nothing had been written, one of these would be pressed into service?

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So, do we think Dickens had these little stories "in the drawer" as it were, so if deadline day for the next instalment was due and nothing had been written, one of these would be pressed into service?

I don't think so, no. They serve as an effective contrast to the jovial and good-natured approach of the main narrative, and in doing so help explore its themes in alternative, darker ways which are meant to make us think. In turn they help the comedy to work more effectively through providing the shade which helps the brightness shine.

 

It's a bit of a crude device, though, and points up again someone who's learning his trade. But it's indicative of the way he would work. Dickens doesn't like to take us on great tours of the mind - he doesn't delve explicitly into the psyche of each character, but instead shows us their complexities from the outside. We are encouraged to do a lot of the work, in other words, and I think the thematically related tales are an early facet of this tendency. Rather than just enjoy them as a diversion, we're encouraged to join the dots.

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What an unexpected pleasure that was! I can only second what others have said on other threads about Dickens: it's definitely worth persevering to get past the first couple of chapters, the reward far outweighs the effort.

 

Onwards now (after a break for something more modern) to Oliver Twist - a book I've never read but a story I feel I know quite well owing to many TV and cinema versions...

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Onwards now (after a break for something more modern) to Oliver Twist - a book I've never read but a story I feel I know quite well owing to many TV and cinema versions...

I hope this is the beginning of something rather special on BGO - Waawo's Dickens Odyssey! That alone should see us through to 2025...

 

Looking forward to seeing what you think of Fagin given the popular adaptations we're familiar with.

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I hope this is the beginning of something rather special on BGO - Waawo's Dickens Odyssey! That alone should see us through to 2025...
Ooh, a little quicker than that I hope!

 

I loved Oliver Twist and it's so much better than any of the adaptations that I've seen. Enjoy.
Really looking forward to it, I'm actually expecting something very different to the "cuddly musical" approach...

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The social and institutional satire in Dickens is one of the things I really love. So much old literature still resonates with us because human nature doesn't change, but it's fascinating to see how even the institutions and professions are still very similar. Banking too, as with Mr Merdle in Little Dorrit.

 

I can't remember much now about what Dodson & Fogg got up to, but I suspect it was rather less richly comical than the rest of the book. Lawyers rarely gave Dickens much to laugh about.

Fully agree. Human mature doesn't change, and neither does our attitude towards institutions. Note how the "love" for lawyers in this book is very familiar to the way the profession is perceived today. In fact lawyers are the only true villains in this novel (Alfred Jingle redeems himself in the end)

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I downloaded the audiobook of this and I have to say that I just couldn't get on with it.  To start with I felt grateful that I wasn't turning lots of pages waiting for something to happen, but when I realised that I was driving for miles at a time without listening I had to accept that this book is not for me.  I know that one doesn't turn to Dickens for the snappy prose and plot driven action but this was just too slow.  I listened to two and a half of the thirty hours then gave up.

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Love this thread.  Like all BGO Dickens thread there is so much to talk about.  I started reading this a while ago, also as bedtime reading waawo. Consequently it's taking quite a time to get through, but then I don't want to hurry through it because there is so much to relish and enjoy. 

 

Unlike you chuntzy I enjoy the little 'tales' and can see some of Dickens later works buried within. 

 

Dickens characters are always larger than life for me and PP is no exception.  My only problem is that I keep remembering bits of the television version I saw  years ago and although the names of the actors has flown from my memory cells, I can still picture their performance at times when I am reading. 

 

Still have about a third of the book to go.

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I downloaded the audiobook of this and I have to say that I just couldn't get on with it.  To start with I felt grateful that I wasn't turning lots of pages waiting for something to happen, but when I realised that I was driving for miles at a time without listening I had to accept that this book is not for me.  I know that one doesn't turn to Dickens for the snappy prose and plot driven action but this was just too slow.  I listened to two and a half of the thirty hours then gave up.

Sorry to hear that, Jen.  But Dickens does tend to be a bit of a Marmite author and I know he's not to everyone's taste.  It's certainly true that Dickens hadn't developed his full plotting sensibilities for this one - it's a book that in many ways bears more resemblance to his initial work as a sketch writer.  Consequently if you don't click with that particular kind of humour and character work, there's no great narrative drive to make up for it.

 

We'll still let you be an honorary Pickwickian for giving it a go!  ;)

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We'll still let you be an honorary Pickwickian for giving it a go!  ;)

 

Phew, that's a relief!  I have listened to and thoroughly enjoyed some other Dickens novels as well as read Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol and watched who knows how many adaptations for film and TV and enjoyed them all.  Reading through this thread and finding out that The Pickwick Papers was his first novel explained a lot, I think.

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It's a long time since I read PP but I remember enjoying it at the time. It was very episodic and it made me wonder whether Dickens had any idea of a plot when the first instalments were published. Even the full title (The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Containing a Faithful Record of the Perambulations, Perils, Travels, Adventures and Sporting Transactions of the Corresponding Members) suggests a loose assortment of papers and short stories. The novel feels very different by the end.

 

But my clear favourite of the Dickens I have read is Barnaby Rudge - political and terrifying. 

Edited by MisterHobgoblin

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Well, I finally got to the end of PP and have to admit I was almost sorry to do so.  This has given me so much joy and laughter.  There are so many quotes I could use to illustrate the joy of reading Dickens prose but I feel those already used illustrate very well indeed what I mean.  Dickens acerbic observations of characters are so amusing, perhaps that's  because they are they are still relevant.  As David says, that's probably because human nature does not really change that much. 

 

For me this was a slow-burner and I found it difficult to get into, but I'm so glad I did.  Having read Dickens in the past I was prepared for this.  He can seem very 'unnecessarily wordy' but in the end it's always worth reading through that to get into the feel of his writing.  He never disappoints (well not yet for me anyway) even though I felt Hard Times was the more difficult of his works to read. My next venture into Dickens will be Bleak House - it's been on my shelves for far too long.

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