Dickens

jenks

thread death
I’d probably say a mixture. He’s fully aware of how money saves you and secures you a position - no matter how unsavoury you might be - look at how he can’t bring himself to entirely condemn Steerforth. But more importantly despite going on about determination etc he is aware that luck and the arbitrary nature of things counts for much - he could’ve stayed in that blacking factory, by all accounts his early publishing career is full of chance encounters which work out in his favour. Even Pickwick’s success is partly down to the bad luck of the illustrator who kills himself two issues in.
His novels are criticised for the degree of coincidence and paths crossing but I think Dickens saw the hand of chance in life very clearly and knew but for luck he wouldn’t be anything other than another lower middle class clerk. A proto-Pooter.
 

you

Well-known member
I'm about 300 pages into bleak house. It's requiring a bit of discipline, but when I get going with it, it's very readable. I feel like he's setting off a load of stories that are slowly winding together tighter and tighter. You get a bit more character with each round and after a while, the world gets built.

And I like his various voices and the fact he mixes up the spellings for the accents and how different people talk. Nothing so far to match that opening famous couple of pages, about the smog, but I really love that bit.

I've read (perhaps in a Steven Connor book) that Dickens was an amazing impersonator and would, at his readings, put on different voices for each character. That he was quite an actor in this sense, the crowd loved his readings because he performed the characters.
 

you

Well-known member
I think the cynical Dickens, if he exists, starts from the opposite position

Isn't the line from Mr Micawber, that one can live happily by spending 99% of what one has but to spend 101% brings on a life of misery, a line his father, Dickens', said? When I read DC I felt a heavy impress of the arbitrary nature of 'success', money, status etc.

I really like the scene where Micawber built up a big announcement, that he would right everything with Traddles, and produced... an IOU
 

you

Well-known member
Isn't the line from Mr Micawber, that one can live happily by spending 99% of what one has but to spend 101% brings on a life of misery, a line his father, Dickens', said? When I read DC I felt a heavy impress of the arbitrary nature of 'success', money, status etc.

I really like the scene where Micawber built up a big announcement, that he would right everything with Traddles, and produced... an IOU

Luka - have you read Maugham's Of Human Bondage? It's similar to DC on a number of levels.
 

woops

is not like other people
luka said:
Oh, no! I'm a very 'umble person.

No. I haven't read many novels. I only really got into it during lockdown. But since then I have read and discerned everything of any value in the novel form. I did this with superhuman speed and insight due to my enlightened nature, god-like intelligence
 
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jenks

thread death
Two things I’ve read today about Dickens. One by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst was the phrase “Dickens’ suspicion of his own rhetoric” Which seems apt To what we’ve been saying.
And John Carey describing certain characters representing anarchic tendencies Dickens could neither repress nor allow himself to openly address.
 

luka

Well-known member
I've just read an article about Dickens in Finnegans Wake which mentions a Master Bates pun Dickens carries on for several pages of Oliver Twist.
 

luka

Well-known member
They're like great menageries these books, penning in all these exotic characters. Great Expectations is going well. I'll finish today or tomorrow. There's something Macbeth like about the meeting with Magwitch on the marshes
 

catalog

Well-known member
Skimpole in Bleak House is an interesting character. A fool I suppose, in the sense that he says things no one else can say:

"Enterprise and effort," he would say to us (on his back), "are delightful to me. I believe I am truly cosmopolitan. I have the deepest sympathy with them. I lie in a shady place like this and think of adventurous spirits going to the North Pole or penetrating to the heart of the Torrid Zone with admiration. Mercenary creatures ask, 'What is the use of a man's going to the North Pole? What good does it do?' I can't say; but, for anything I CAN say, he may go for the purpose--though he don't know it--of employing my thoughts as I lie here. Take an extreme case. Take the case of the slaves on American plantations. I dare say they are worked hard, I dare say they don't altogether like it. I dare say theirs is an unpleasant experience on the whole; but they people the landscape for me, they give it a poetry for me, and perhaps that is one of the pleasanter objects of their existence. I am very sensible of it, if it be, and I shouldn't wonder if it were!"
 

catalog

Well-known member
I'm about 200 pages from the end of bleak house now. very enjoyable read all round. very good plotting and character development, lots of surprises that you don't see, but work, lots of old characters rejoining the fold. can't really see the piss taking apart from a few very obvious places where its more wordplay type parody, like when bucket is being ridiculously over the top smarmy towards leicester.

he's definitely got this very good modern thing going, like i said previously, where he seems to up the ante in terms of drama, at key moments, by stepping out of the normal dialogue of the characters and bringing in this other voice, which is sort of their abstracted words. Very effetfive. What they would say in their heads, but it comes in like it's out loud, got this nice slippery character to it.

don't think i'll read another straight away, cos too many other things on the list, but would definitely come back to him again for another book.
 

jenks

thread death
I watched the Copperfield film tonight (an achievement in itself) I can imagine purists fuming at bits left out etc and it shows how the large canvas Dickens provided cannot be replicated in film but it does give a version of DC that plants it firmly in the alternative autobiog of CD - the ambiguity of Micawber, the shame which is redoubled in Great Expecs, the summary dismissal of Dora, loads of thongs glossed that are dwelled upon in the novel - it’s a decent two hours, a gallop indeed as opposed to the languid pace of the novel.
 

jenks

thread death
Just got Mullan’s book on Dickens. First chapter is all about how he uses ‘as if’; second is all about smells - I’m living it - proper microanalysis of how Dickens writes. Not for everyone I’m sure.
 

jenks

thread death
You'll have finished that one by about 7, I suppose? 😠
Ha! No, I have about four or five books which I dip into depending on mood etc. I’m reading two or three Cantos a night, a translation of a medieval poem, an Anita Brookner and Wilding by someone by unironically called Tree
 

luka

Well-known member
Wemmick's house was a little wooden cottage in the midst of plots of garden, and the top of it was cut out and painted like a battery mounted with guns.

"My own doing," said Wemmick. "Looks pretty; don't it?"

I highly commended it, I think it was the smallest house I ever saw; with the queerest gothic windows (by far the greater part of them sham), and a gothic door, almost too small to get in at.

"That's a real flagstaff, you see," said Wemmick, "and on Sundays I run up a real flag. Then look here. After I have crossed this bridge, I hoist it up - so - and cut off the communication."

The bridge was a plank, and it crossed a chasm about four feet wide and two deep. But it was very pleasant to see the pride with which he hoisted it up and made it fast; smiling as he did so, with a relish and not merely mechanically.

"At nine o'clock every night, Greenwich time," said Wemmick, "the gun fires. There he is, you see! And when you hear him go, I think you'll say he's a Stinger."

The piece of ordnance referred to, was mounted in a separate fortress, constructed of lattice-work. It was protected from the weather by an ingenious little tarpaulin contrivance in the nature of an umbrella.

"Then, at the back," said Wemmick, "out of sight, so as not to impede the idea of fortifications - for it's a principle with me, if you have an idea, carry it out and keep it up - I don't know whether that's your opinion--"

I said, decidedly.

" - At the back, there's a pig, and there are fowls and rabbits; then, I knock together my own little frame, you see, and grow cucumbers; and you'll judge at supper what sort of a salad I can raise. So, sir," said Wemmick, smiling again, but seriously too, as he shook his head, "if you can suppose the little place besieged, it would hold out a devil of a time in point of provisions."
 
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