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Old November 13th, 2012, 08:33 PM   #11

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What I like best about Dickens are that some of his central characters, such Pickwick, Jarndyce, and little Esther Summerson, are absolute models of human decency. They instinctively do the right thing, in the midst of a world of people playing angles.

Dickens was largely published via serialization in the newspapers, and if you have problems reading him I'd suggest re-creating that. Read a chapter per week on a Sunday evening, and if it takes a year then so be it. There's a pretty good chance that when you reach the point where 200 pages are left, and all of the plot threads are coming together, that you'll end up finishing it in one go.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 08:53 PM   #12

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Each to his own. To understand Dickens you need more than just shallow understanding of his times. I happen to like all his works and yes I like Hard Times. you really have to see who he is aiming at in part here---Jeremy Bentham.
His opening about teach them only "facts" is a direct attack on Bentham's utilitarian philosophy. and some teachers should take note. Sissy works with horses, she knows them but because she cannot give an encyclopedic explanation as Bitzer can she is judged a failure.
I find all of Dickens' characters are gross exaggerations but consider the audience he was writing for. Was he the best of his period? I prefer George Elliot who is much more subtle but that doesn't stop me liking Dickens
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Old November 14th, 2012, 01:00 AM   #13

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Dickens lives in two ways now, through his books, and through films and television series based on them; they do in fact provide wonderful material for dramatization, and splendid roles for character actors to play, and I expect that more people know his works at second-hand than in the original. Though television productions, sometimes of the more obscure works, do encourage people to try the original. He is one of those authors who create a world that lives independently of them. Everything is larger than life in his books, and there is always a tendency to the grotesque (as in Victor Hugo); not an author to turn to for subtle and carefully observed portrayals of character or moral issues.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 05:44 AM   #14
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I agree with the Earl of Rochester about 'Hard Times'' to some extent. His working class hero in this novel -Stephen Blackpool'' is an impossibly idealised to the point of saintliness character. Highlighting that, despite Dickens sojourn in a boot polish factory, -he never really was successful with non -criminal working class figures-even blacksmith, Joe Garaghty in ''Great Expectations'' is an idealised proletarian figure.
But I am suprised hat nobody has yet mentioned Dickens great Xmas masterpiece--''A Christmas Carol'' and his fabulous character ''Scrooge''.
Even if he had written nothing else, Dickens would still be celebrated today worldwide for Scooge, Bob Crachit, Tiny Tim et al.. without which no Xmas tv schedule would be complete without the several fimed versions of ''A Christmas Carol'' being shown.
Even Hollywood via Bill Murray-as a mysoginistic tv man- have celebrated ''Scrooge'' on film.
My own favourite film versions of ''A Christmas Carol'' are the 1951 Alistair Sim filmed version and Albert Finney in the musical film version of Dickens's Xmas masterpiece.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 06:10 AM   #15

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But I am suprised hat nobody has yet mentioned Dickens great Xmas masterpiece--''A Christmas Carol'' and his fabulous character ''Scrooge''.
Even if he had written nothing else, Dickens would still be celebrated today worldwide for Scooge, Bob Crachit, Tiny Tim et al.. without which no Xmas tv schedule would be complete without the several fimed versions of ''A Christmas Carol'' being shown.
Even Hollywood via Bill Murray-as a mysoginistic tv man- have celebrated ''Scrooge'' on film.
My own favourite film versions of ''A Christmas Carol'' are the 1951 Alistair Sim filmed version and Albert Finney in the musical film version of Dickens's Xmas masterpiece.
Personally I am a bit fed up with that particular story exactly because of overexposure to it. Same goes for Oliver Twist.

As a teen I literally swallowed David Copperfield and it made me completely fascinated with 19th century London. Also Uriah Heep is one of the most frightening villains I've ever come across in literature, a remarkable insight into Hannah Arendts "banality of evil" and way more chilling than the flamboyant old misers that are usually the stock villains in Dickens as well as other 19th century stories.

I later read The Pickwick Papers with much enjoyment, although it is admittedly one of his lighter works.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 06:18 AM   #16

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Love his stuff. Of course a lot of the people in his stories are caricatures, I might be wrong but I always thought that to be intentional. Studied Hard Times for English O Level and still enjoy it.
I appreciate people's comments about idealised characters and insipid females - I can see why people say that but I don't think it's always true and when it is it doesn't really spoil the story much for me. I think I possibly enjoy reading him as much for the man he was as the writer.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 06:32 AM   #17
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I'm re-reading 'David Copperfield'. It is interesting how totally Dickens shows up the ghastliness of the society the tories are moving us back to.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 06:55 AM   #18

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I'm re-reading 'David Copperfield'. It is interesting how totally Dickens shows up the ghastliness of the society the tories are moving us back to.
Great novel and who can forget the Micawber Principle ? :

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

It is a precept I have always adhered to and it is a pity that our government and financial institutions did not do the same. Dickens was a wonderful writer and still has lessons for us today.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 07:22 AM   #19

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I like Oliver!, the musical.

I've been meaning to read Great Expectations, what with the forthcoming film with Helena Bonham-Carter coming out (I haven't yet watched Agent Scully as Miss Havisham though).
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Old November 14th, 2012, 07:36 AM   #20

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I'm not too familiar with his work, but my oldest brother played in the Flemish version of the musical Oliver. And that was okay.
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