Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Dickens

  1. #1

    Dickens

    A few years ago, a lit instructor admitted to our class that she disliked Dickens - his novels were published in the newspaper section by section as they were written, and she said that she feels his writing is unnecessarily long and elaborate, in the interest of making a larger profit. I certainly can't hold that against someone who is struggling to support themselves... but I'll be honest, that completely KILLED all the spark in me to read anything by Dickens. I haven't picked up anything to this day... I'm wondering if anyone has any objections to this??

  2. #2
    Moderator Logos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    6,490
    Blog Entries
    19
    Hmm, well, that's an interesting reason to dislike an author I guess, but, in my opinion, it was very typical for authors in Dickens' time, and before and after, to initially serialise their works, be they short stories, essays, or novels, in magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, journals etc.--then if they were popular enough, of course a publisher was more likely to print it as a novel or collected work. Kind of like now with 21st c authors submitting short articles/stories etc to publications first before taking the leap and getting into more ambitious works.

    Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450's, Martin Luther brought The Bible to the unwashed masses in 1522; then with the explosion of the print media industry in the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800's, publishers needed content and needed to sell papers. Literacy rates were soaring and reading became accessible to the hoi polloi. So serialised works were gladly accepted and at reasonable length to include in a weekly or monthly publication.

    While this method helped a struggling author establish their reputation, it also gave them an income to live on (albeit paltry at times) and to take the time to work on longer novels etc. which they might not see any money from for years (if ever during their lifetime).

    I don't have a problem with Charles Dickens or Oliver Wendell Holmes, Wilkie Collins or Elinor Glyn to name a few, who first chose to give the public installments of what are now timeless classic literary works. A big part of it was they needed the money to live on, and if they profited, well then more power to them I like to think the same rings true today for new authors.
    Forum » Rules » FAQ » Tags » Blogs » Groups » Quizzes » e-Texts »
    ◕‿◕ currently reading Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark, Bill Dedman (2013)

    "the dogs bark but the caravan moves on" --Arab proverb
    .


  3. #3
    Registered User aeroport's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    2,055
    I quite understand your disinclination, ThousandthIsle, to read something that sounds as if it must be stuffed with "filler" in the interest of a profit. I do not, however, know to what degree this applies to Dickens. I've certainly heard of authors being paid by the word by publishers, but the truth is a large portion of Dickens's work was published in periodicals like All the Year Round, Houshold Words, etc., of which he himself was the editor. Additionally, I've just never found him overly discursive, whereas there are passages in, say, Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov toward which I rather do feel that way, as if they could have been omitted (the history of the elder's life - a relatively minor character - comes to mind). I haven't read a huge amount of Dickens, but my impression so far is that we may take him seriuosly without accusing him of being too terrible a mercenary. Plus, I do not think - though I may be mistaken here - that Dickens was ever struggling to support himself during his literary career; he was viciously poor as a kid, which undoubtedly had its influence, but he was a pretty popular author in his time.

  4. #4
    Thank you both very much for your responses. I was surprised, actually, at how large of an impact my instructor's "prejudice" had on me. Normally I am not so vulnerable to others' opinions, especially when I am so uninformed on the topic, so it's been bothering me all these years that her concise little criticism could turn me off completely.

    Thank you for the insight into his life and into the publishing world, also. It just goes to show (*life lesson alert*) that if you take the time to look deeper and listen, motives that might appear "greedy" or "selfish" or "unkind" (etc. etc.) actually have very practical (or understandable) reasoning behind them... For the most part, I think it is best to give people the benefit of the doubt... And this was a good example of why!

    Thanks again for responding!

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    120

    Dickens

    Well, my father (who sadly passed away 10 years ago) was a voracious reader. He would read every word of every book, no matter how long and tedious it got. He also did crossword puzzles in ink and freaked out if he (or I - yes, he checked my puzzles, too!) had a write-over. Therefore, any time I skim a long descriptive passage, I feel guilty. He also convinced me that I would be missing something. I personally feel like it's better to read the book -Great Expectations is wonderful - and skim the boring stuff if you have to. Please don't let one wet blanket teacher ruin it for you.

  6. #6
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Outdoors!
    Posts
    875
    Quote Originally Posted by ThousandthIsle View Post
    A few years ago, a lit instructor admitted to our class that she disliked Dickens - his novels were published in the newspaper section by section as they were written, and she said that she feels his writing is unnecessarily long and elaborate, in the interest of making a larger profit. I certainly can't hold that against someone who is struggling to support themselves... but I'll be honest, that completely KILLED all the spark in me to read anything by Dickens. I haven't picked up anything to this day... I'm wondering if anyone has any objections to this??
    I had a teacher who felt the same way. I didn't read Dickens for the longest time, then one day, I read Great Expectations. I loved it! I then read Bleak House and David Copperfield. I adore them all. I've not read all of Dickens, but what I have read, I've loved.

    I think you should read a few of Dickens' books and make your own decision.

  7. #7
    Registered User bluosean's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    172
    I agree. I wouldn't mind being paid as much as I could get for working. Actors get paid millions. Sports players get paid millions. I like movies, and I like sports, and I like Dickens. I am happy for them that they are able to become rich. Try to read one of his books. You will know if you like it, and you will know if you think that he believes what he was saying and if his writing was important to him.
    "bruised reed" Isaiah 42:3

Similar Threads

  1. Charles Dickens Thesis Part 1
    By TheBob in forum General Writing
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 10-05-2010, 03:03 AM
  2. Orwell on Dickens
    By MikeK in forum Charles Dickens
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-17-2008, 11:22 PM
  3. Thoughts on Dickens
    By MikeK in forum Dickens, Charles
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-24-2006, 06:43 PM
  4. Charles Dickens Thesis Part 5
    By TheBob in forum General Writing
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 01-18-2006, 05:52 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •