Hmmm, maybe I should give it a try. I decided years ago that it was OK that I loathed Dickens, but I'd like not to. You make this sound interesting.
I've always loved Dickens. I think he's the only English writer who can be mentioned in the same breath as Shakespeare.
I'd be curious to know what is is about him you hate.
Hmmm. It's been years, but I found him very formulaic. Cardboard characters. I could be wrong.
Yeah, he's got his mannerisms- but they're HIS mannerisms. He wrote his own rule book.
I'll agree that the characters- the comic characters anyway- are flat. They don't show development. At the same time they're immensely alive in their cartoony way.
In the later novels- starting I suppose with David Copperfield- he begins to add in an element of psychological and emotional realism. He also begins to orchestrate his novels and build them into huge symbolic structures. The BIG novels- Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend- are hugely ambitious. Of course he's full of faults, but there's no-one else in Eng Lit at once so grand and so funny.
Dickens is one of the few novelists I can be bothered to re-read.
Chesterton said that Dickens didn't really have masterpieces- all the novels were like lengths cut from the same log. There's truth in that, but it rather overlooks the way Dickens matured and developed as a writer. I think Little Dorrit shows him at his peak.
Chesterton was a huge fan of Dickens. His book on Dickens is excellent criticism. The thing is he tends to value the early Dickens- the Dickens of Pickwick- over the later Dickens. It was all tied up with his own (slightly bogus) philosophy of cheeriness.
The metaphor of the log is about texture rather than length. He was arguing that Dickens is the same all the way through- from Boz to Drood- and that characters from one novel could easily turn up in another without the reader being startled. Actually I think the same could be said of any novelist and it's no more true or untrue of Dickens than anyone else.
It also disregards the very important ways in which something like Little Dorrit differs, in mood, structure and maturity from something like Oliver Twist.
But critics of Chesterton's generation DID prefer early Dickens. It was only later on- with people like Edmund Wilson- that Little Dorrit and Our Mutual Friend came into their own.
I think it's got something to do with audience expectations. Dickens scored a huge Harry Potter-sized hit with Pickwick and people wanted more of the same. They felt short changed by the later movels with their symbolism and gloom. They were hoping for mail-coaches and Sam Weller's cockney wit and what they got was the Marshalsea prison.
It was only when a later generation was able to contemplate the entire oeuvre out of sequence that the idea gained ground that the later novels might actually be better.
I know what you mean. Hard Times took Dickens away from his "manor" and into a world he didn't fully understand- the industrial north of England. It feels forced and- compared to the novels on either side of it- Bleak House and Little Dorrit- over-simplified in its social analysis.
He he he.
I find it very hard to like anything I've ever had to study academically. Hard Times was a set book somewhere along the line, so it's come out as my least favourite Dickens novel. All the rest I read for pleasure.
This sounds like blissfully calming reading--I've just been down into a dank crypt with The Historian, who is about to kill a vampire with a silver dagger pressed in by a stone.
"Delicately painted" sounds very pleasant at the moment.
There's quite a lot of dankness in Dickens too.
But no silver daggers