Dickens

jenks

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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

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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

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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.
 

luka

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No. I haven't read many novels. I only really got into it during lockdown.
 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
 
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