Monday, 6 December 2010

I READ DOMBEY AND SON FIRST

Victorian authors can be difficult to read, but Dickens is one of the easiest to access. He wrote with pace. This was partly because many of his novels were written in short instalments so they could be serialised in  the newspaper. Generally, Dickens wrote the way we are taught to:

Keep the reader tense and the character away from their goal

SPOILER: There are two weaknesses in this novel - born too early, died too soon.

Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great arm-chair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown while he was very new.

This is a warm and loving introduction of the father and son. It is also a reminder that not all care has the affect we hope for. It takes a couple of hundred words of dying wife and pride before the most significant character – the one we really associate with – is introduced:

--To speak of; none worth mentioning. There had been a girl some six years before, and the child, who had stolen into the chamber unobserved, was now crouching timidly, in a corner whence she could see her mother's face. But what was a girl to Dombey and Son! 

The strength of Dickens' work comes from his ability to see and describe people: their surface selves and the insecurities layered under that. It is strengthened again by seams of universal themes: poverty and charity; greed and generosity; power and powerless, revenge and sacrifice. Dickens' characters can teach life's lessons to his readers, with a lot less pain.

 Ahead of the Dickens 2012, it is great to see Oprah adding two Dickens' novels to her reading list: A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.

Do you have a favourite Dickens’ novel? Are you planning to give one a chance?

11 comments:

  1. I don't know why but Great Expectations didn't jive with me. But I did enjoy his other works.
    I think it's a great idea to go back and read the classics every once in a while.
    That's what I plan on doing come the new year. :)

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  2. i read a Tale of Two of Two Cities in highschool, but haven't picked one up since, maybe it's time.

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  3. I've not read him, probably not likely too anytime soon. My next read most likely will be another Dahl book, or something else fun I pick up at the bookshop. Love to go there and read, while Tim writes on the laptop.

    Time for me to get dressed and make batches and batches of pizzelles. Happy Reading.

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  4. Hi Jennifer
    I agree Great Expectations is such a boy book ;)
    I didn't feel it resonated with me.

    Hi Patti
    I studied Dombey and Son at school - then read my way around the rest. I LOVED the ghost stories best of all. The best seller of all, is the best.

    Ivy! What-are-you-like? :) Still, you can't go wrong with a Dahl - edible or literary ;)

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  5. I write and read little kid stuff. It's what makes me giggle and smile.

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  6. Dombey is probably my favorite Dickens novel. His female characters tend to be either angels or freaks (as someone once said), as illustrated by Florence Dombey and her eventual stepmother, but I find the dynamics of the family fascinating.

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  7. Hi Laura
    I studied Dombey and I felt for Florence. I remember the school section being the highlight for me.

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  8. I really need to start reading more of his works. (Mentally adds some titles to my TBR list)

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  9. Love, love, love, Dickens. David Copperfield..and not the magician guy.

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  10. I did enjoy the Muppet's Christmas Carol. That's good stuff.

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