Dickens

IdleRich

IdleRich
When I was really little I truly thought - in the same way that I believed my grandpa led the allied forces against Hitler - that Shakespeare and Dickens were like two friends who together sort of created and carved up literature between them.
 

jenks

thread death
A lot of Barkiss has gone into the Beckett character whose name I've forgotten. In a room which is the world, with a stick to reach for his few possessions.
Barkiss’ death is beautiful - it was what I was referring to upthread.
 

jenks

thread death
It's one of the things which makes reading Dickens so fascinating. Everyone who ever wrote a book afterwards has read him so his influence is everywhere. He's central to the literature in the way Shakespeare is.
I read somewhere that Copperfield and Great Expectations are two goes at the same story - with GE the dark gothic version, both are about money, benefactors, greed, Australia and maybe most important of all, how to become an adult.
 

luka

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Staff member
They taught us all a deal of umbleness- not much else that I know of from morning to night. We was to be umble to this person, and umble to that; and to pull off our caps here, and to make bows there; and always to know our place, and abase ourselves before our betters. And we had such a lot of betters! Father got the monitor-medal by being umble. So did I. Father got made a sexton by being umble. He had the character, among the gentlefolks, of being such a well-behaved man, that they were determined to bring him in.

'Be umble Uriah,' says my father to me, 'and you'll get on. It was what was always being dinned into you and me at school; it's what goes down best. Be umble,' says father, 'and you'll do!'....

"When I was quite a young boy," said Uriah, "I got to know what umbleness did, and I took to it. I ate umble pie with an appetite. I stopped at the umble point of my learning, and says I, 'Hold hard!' When you offered to teach me Latin, I knew better. 'People like to be above you,' says father, 'keep yourself down.' I am very umble to the present moment, Master Copperfield, but I've got a little power!'
 

luka

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Staff member
"I would trample on them all!" She answered. "I would have his house pulled down. I would have her branded on the face, dressed in rags, and cast out into the streets to starve. If I had the power to sit in judgement on her, I would see it done. See it done? I would do it! I detest her. If I ever could reproach her for her infamous condition, I would go anywhere to do so. If I could hunt her to her grave, I would. If there were any word of comfort that would be a solace to her in her dying hour, and only I possessed it, I wouldn't part with it for Life itself."
 

jenks

thread death
Dickens likes doubles - Heep is a version of David, I think and therefore the revulsion he has for Uriah - he slaps him so hard he loses a tooth! He sees the potentially ugly part of himself.
I finished it the other day - I’m always amazed by the seeming ease he pulls it all together and still adds spikes to the tale as it’s closing - the prison scene for example.
 

luka

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'anchored in the purest depths of his fine nature' is not a phrase you could write today. goodness in Dickens is an interesting subject. i don't think it is mere mawkishness. i think it would be well worth trying to wrote good characters today, to see what happens. The Idiot is an experiment of this nature. The Man Who Fell to Earth is another. could you do it without those characters becoming corrupted and contaminated?
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
The thing is, the depiction of good people can be seen as sentimentality that pleases us because it deludes us, but the depiction of venal, corrupt people can be just as pandering.

After all, there's something fundamentally pleasing to many people about being told the human race is just a big pile of shit – I recognise that pleasure when I read something like Madame Bovary. Viewed through Flaubert's misanthropic lens, happiness is a delusion, kindness is pretension (or stupidity).

But I also think that when people respond to the depiction of goodness in Dickens they're responding with a sense of renewed recognition. Because while there are some very unlucky people who never meet a good person in their (probably very short) lives, I'd say that the majority of people encounter good people almost every day of their lives.

Not SAINTS, mind you. But fundamentally nice people.
 

jenks

thread death
I think you’re right @Corpsey - I read Leonard and Hungry Paul recently and was struck by how it was totally at odds with most fiction as the characters were essentially good people navigating their way through normal life - not cynical, sneering or intellectually aloof writing - it was a genuine delight.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
That was something I thought the recent adaptation of David Copperfield really captured – a sense of optimism, in spite of much folly, misery and villainy, about people's capacity to help each other be happier.
 

jenks

thread death
That was something I thought the recent adaptation of David Copperfield really captured – a sense of optimism, in spite of much folly, misery and villainy, about people's capacity to help each other be happier.
I started to re-read it as I wanted a clear idea of the book before I saw the film - I had remembered it in a rather dismissive fashion as the great weighty ones like Bleak House, Mutual, Expectations had always been my favourites but I really enjoyed the re-read, there’s a great warmth in characters like Mr Dick, Pegotty and Betsy Trotwood and the depiction of the Lowestoft cast is great. The intermittent chats with the undertaker are studded throughout the book as waymarkers for growing up whilst remaining the same.
 

jenks

thread death
Back to Heep - I read yesterday that the description of him as being damp or moist handed would have been a signal to Dickens’ readers that Uriah was a masturbator. Umble but ‘orny
 

luka

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Staff member
Back to Heep - I read yesterday that the description of him as being damp or moist handed would have been a signal to Dickens’ readers that Uriah was a masturbator. Umble but ‘orny
my guess is that this is not in fact true
 

jenks

thread death
my guess is that this is not in fact true
But he is seen as ‘unnatural’ in his desires when he lets DC know he’s after Agnes. He overplays his, moist, hand and blows his opportunity with the perfect Agnes.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I personally going to chose a Dickens who is not making wanking jokes for his audience!
 
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