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  #11  
Old 02-08-2012, 06:06 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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Oh Gregory - how could I forget the most incredible people to object relation of all!!!

Mrs Sparsit's Staircase. She builds it in her mind and imagines Louisa coming down down down. Oh my god.

And the bit where Dickens describes Sparsit's - "her right mitten (with her fist in it).." Where parantheses ever used so effectively?

Hard Times is a killer.
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  #12  
Old 02-08-2012, 08:53 PM
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Gail White Gail White is offline
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Oh what delight to find so many Dickens fans on the Sphere. He is still my favorite novelist. A week ago someone asked me, if I could get everyone I know to read one novel, what would it be -- and I answered without even thinking, "David Copperfield."

He also created what may be my favorite couple in Enlish literature -
Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness in "The Old Curiosity Shop." I never get tired of rereading their story.

One of CD's great gifts is the way he brings even passing characters to life as individuals - like the butcher in "Martin Chuzzlewit" who objects to Tom Pinch (who is trying to force a beefsteak into his pocket) that "Meat must be humored, not drove." Or the actor's dresser in "Great Expectations" who declares on the authority of much experience that "You're out in your reading of Hamlet when you get your legs in profile."
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  #13  
Old 02-08-2012, 09:25 PM
Kevin J MacLellan Kevin J MacLellan is offline
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Three Cheers for Charles Dickens!

I will never forget the sermon on Justice and proper etiquette delivered in high dudgeon to the Queen's Court by Jack Dawkins, the "Artful Dodger,"upon the occasion of HIS arrest in Oliver Twist. I can still laugh outload about it today, though I haven't seen the pages in too many years. Anyone who has not enjoyed much by Dickens is missing out on great Art and a good deal of life to boot.

Others may have been more subtle in their assessments of social reality (Elizabeth Gaskill and George. Eliot, for instance), but none was more whole-heartedly sincere and unequivocal in his compassionate vision, and none that I know of was a better writer/creator of characters.
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  #14  
Old 02-09-2012, 02:31 AM
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John Whitworth John Whitworth is offline
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I got this from Janet Kenny. Good on yer, Janet.


Here is the best tribute to Charles Dickens that I have read.

The New Zealand novelist, the late Maurice Shadbolt in 'One of Ben's', tells this tale about the wonderful witty New Zealand poet, the late Denis Glover:

"Denis was between marriages, often drunk,and also depressed. He confessed that he had seen suicide as a solution to his problems. A gas oven looked the most useful means. He put his head in the oven and turned on the gas. Waiting on oblivion, he felt there must be a more dignified way to die. He heaved mattress and pillow into the kitchen and sealed up windows and doors. He arranged mattress and pillow to his satisfaction. At least this new posture was comfortable. Then he turned on the gas again. It hissed steadily, beginning to fill the kitchen, but taking too long. Boredom set in. Denis found himself in need of a time-killing book. He turned off the gas, unsealed the kitchen and hunted along his bookshelves for a likely volume. Here was a pickle. What was his last book to be? It had to be an old favourite. He was never going to finish it; a fresh story wouldn't do. He fell on 'The Pickwick Papers', bore it off to the kitchen, resealed the room, turned on the gas,and was soon absorbed in his book. Soon he was laughing so much that he reached for cigarettes and matches. On the verge of lighting up he was struck by the thought: If I light this cigarette I'll kill myself.
Dickens kept Denis writing for another two decades."

And here is what Janet says is Glover's best poem. I love it.

The Magpies

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Tom's hand was strong to the plough
and Elizabeth's lips were red
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Year in year out they worked
while the pines grew overhead
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

But all the beautiful crops soon went
to the mortgage man instead
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Elizabeth is dead now (it's long ago)
Old Tom's gone light in the head
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

The farms still there. Mortgage corporations
couldn't give it away
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.
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  #15  
Old 02-09-2012, 11:56 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Good story, great poem. Thanks Janet and John.
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  #16  
Old 02-09-2012, 01:27 PM
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Gail White Gail White is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregory Dowling View Post
You could even write a whole book (maybe someone already has) on umbrellas in Dickens: think of Mrs Gamp's or Silas Wegg's or Miss Mowcher's... And wooden legs too.
For example, Dick Swiveller's remark, after learning that all his clothes have been pawned during his illness: "It's embarrassing... In case of fire, even an umbrella would be something."
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  #17  
Old 02-09-2012, 01:31 PM
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Gail White Gail White is offline
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On Great Expectations, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm one of those who prefer the "happy ending". I find it to be beautifully understated and subdued as becomes a late love, and the last phrase overpowers me every time.

"...In all the vast expanse of tranqul light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of anothing parting from her."
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  #18  
Old 02-11-2012, 07:51 AM
Gregory Dowling Gregory Dowling is offline
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Gail, I'd forgotten that remark of Dick Swiveller's: wonderful. I totally agree with you about Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness. Chesterton (who is perhaps the best critic on Dickens ever, even if Orwell wrote the best single essay on him) says about them:

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Because they are the two most absurd people in the book they are also the most vivid, human, and imaginable. There are two really fine love affairs in Dickens; and I almost think only two. One is the happy courtship of Swiveller and the Marchioness; the other is the tragic courtship of Toots and Florence Dombey.
I agree with Cally that you have to go to Shakespeare to find a term of comparison. Creating a Swiveller or a Jingle or a Bounderby or a Quilp was like creating a Falstaff or a Pistol or an Autolycus or a Caliban. And so what if he couldn't do a Juliet?
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  #19  
Old 02-11-2012, 10:12 AM
B.J. Preston B.J. Preston is offline
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Thanks for this thread, Gregory.
I make it a point to revisit Dickens often (likewise, Shakespeare).
I feel my own speech actually improves when reading him (or listening – audible has some great readers of his works).

Quote:
So he wasn't a poet...
Then again (as others note), I think one could argue he truly was.
Paragraph 2 of Bleak House (referred to obliquely above):

Quote:
Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex Marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of the collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog dropping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little 'prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.


And how's this for economy? One can grasp an entire character from two lines (again, Bleak House):

Quote:
Everything that Mr. Smallweed's grandfather ever put away in his mind was a grub at first, and is a grub at last. In all his life he has never bred a single butterfly.
OR

Quote:
Mr. Chadband moves softly and cumbrously, not unlike a bear who has been taught to walk upright.
OR

Quote:
He was short, cadaverous, and withered; with his head sunk sideways between his shoulders, and the breath issuing in visible smoke from his mouth, as if he were on fire from within.
That last is some great early foreshadowing of the mysterious death by spontaneous combustion. Breaking waves, indeed.

Janet's story is interesting -- Dickens as life-saving, and life-sustaining.
And prolific! It's great to think there are works I have yet to explore...
.
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  #20  
Old 02-12-2012, 12:12 PM
Gregory Dowling Gregory Dowling is offline
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Lovely examples, B.J. And I agree with you about Audible recordings. There are four unabridged recordings of novels read by Martin Jarvis (David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Hard Times, Tale of Two Cities) and it's like having full-cast performances of each one.

An interesting issue of the TLS this week with a number of articles on Dickens (including two Dickens-related poems, by Carol Rumens and Alison Brackenbury). In one article there's a review of a new Selected Letters, which can be found on the paper's website at this address. After my reference above to Dickens's fondness for umbrellas and wooden legs, I was pleased to come across this passage:

Quote:
Another time, he describes asking directions in Rome of a Frenchman, “with an umbrella like a faded tropical leaf (it had not rained for six weeks), staring at nothing at all, with a snuff-box in his hand”. The Frenchman asks if the man Dickens is seeking has a servant with a wooden leg: “‘Great Heaven, sir’ said I, ‘how do I know! I should think not, but it is possible.’ ‘It is always,’ said the Frenchman, ‘possible. Almost all the things of the world are always possible’”.
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