Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dickens-Mania: The Pickwick Papers and more

The Pickwick PapersThe Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I continue my discovery of Charles Dickens I thought it would be interesting to go to the book that brought him original acclaim. This was combined with a desire for light reading, which every commenter agrees is what one gets from The Pickwick Papers. I also read G.K. Chesterton's commentary on the novel which points out that, for a comic novel, it has a great deal of truth about people especially after Sam Weller's character is introduced. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that monthly publication sales really picked up after that point in the story as well.

I traded off between the print and audio versions, as needs dictated. I listened to David Timson's narration which was simply outstanding. I used the Wordsworth print edition because, not only is it inexpensive, it includes the original illustrations, has a good type size, and the book stays open when I leave it on the counter. My needs are few but important.

I was simply astounded at how many seeds of future novels and themes were contained in the Pickwickian adventures. Since I've only read a few of Dickens' novels, I can only imagine how many of these will continue to "echo forward" as I read more of his books.

I was also surprised at how steadily the story line picked up as he went along and at how compelling I found it. I was simply unable to put it down, to the point of reading 3/4 of the book in a week (admittedly I'm a fast reader and it was Thanksgiving weekend so there was a lot of spare time for obsessive reading).

I wouldn't recommend it as the first Dickens book to try but I can definitely say it is worth reading for those times when a lighter book is desired.


Our Mutual FriendOur Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

Having finished The Pickwick Papers with great enjoyment, I now turn to the opposite end of the spectrum with Dickens' last finished novel. I enjoyed David Timson's reading of Pickwick so much that I am going to be accompanying the print edition with his audio. It is exorbitantly expensive but I waited until my monthly Audible credit came up and so, in a sense, it was free.

I'm ready for something more complex and have been eagerly anticipating this book.

First Surprise: I didn't realize this was going to have such an emphasis on reading and books. I'm in the very early chapters but already it is too blatant to miss, from the girl who wishes she could read, to the brother who loves it, to the Boffins who celebrate having extra income by hiring someone to read books to them every night. How interesting ...

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