Sunday, January 29, 2012

Back in the (Victorian) day: Dickens!

My last memory of Dickens was reading A Tale of Two Cities in high school.  I have noticed that an increasing number of book reviews make reference to a cast of "Dickensian" characters.  Curious to know what this meant, I decided to pick up this great edition of Great Expectations published by Vintage Classics in 2012, for the nifty price of $7.00!  In this famous tale, Dickens tells the story of the iconic Pip, an orphan who grows up in a working class household, destined to be a blacksmith until a mysterious benefactor grants him the opportunity to become a "gentleman."  This is a wonderful bildungsroman, which not only tells the story of Pip's coming of age, but also explores such themes as social class and loyalty.  Also, Dickens includes many characters and describes them with panache, for example, referring to one character's "walnut-shell countenance," another one's "sawdusty fragrance," and my favorite, the "Pumblechookian elbow."  I also liked this sentence - "Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts."  The novel moved along quickly and held my interest, though it did drag toward the end.  While this wasn't a standout read for me, I'm glad I reacquainted myself with this classic author considered to be essential to any reader's literary canon. 

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