Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Still On Course

My project to read Dickens' major novels, straight through, in order of publication, nearly foundered on Barnaby Rudge, but I turned the final page yesterday- six months after turning the first- and next up will be A Christmas Carol. Barnaby took Dickens six years to write. He started it around the time he was finishing off The Pickwick Papers then kept shoving it back in the drawer and writing other things instead- until it finally appeared as the second story to be serialized in his- by then faltering- miscellany Master Humphrey's Clock. It's a bad book, but you can't entirely ignore it because it has passages of brilliant writing- and some unforgettable characters- like Miggs the sycophantic maid who runs on at the mouth like a nastier version of Mrs Nickleby and Denis the hangman with his devotion to his craft - and best of all- Grip the Raven- with his voluble stream of unconsciousness, "Never say die, bow wow, keep up your spirits, Grip Grip Grip. Holloa! We'll all have tea, I'm a Protestant kettle, No popery!"

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