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Thread: What is wrong with Charles Dickens?

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    dark desire dark desire's Avatar
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    What is wrong with Charles Dickens?

    Now I am a puny figure to to say this as there is pun intended here (earnestly requesting people here to take it not very seriously). So I will bring in other giants whom I love. Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism.

    I started reading Great Expectations and my expectations were betrayed. :-D I could no go past 50 pages. So... what is wrong with Charles Dickens? Will people better acquainted with Charles Dickens shed some light here? Well developed fierce responses are most welcomed. Please avoid venting frustration here, that is not going to make any point here.
    Being taken literally, is like being sent to hell LITERALLY.

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    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    There are people who Dickens just doesn't work for. I like Dickens, but his novels are largely vehicles for the expression of ideas, and at their strongest they are environments for eccentric and memorable characters.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
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    dark desire dark desire's Avatar
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    Who are other authors that resemble Dickens in style, in your opinion, in classic literature?
    Being taken literally, is like being sent to hell LITERALLY.

    “It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.”
    ― Oscar Wilde

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Thackery has a comic style similar to Dickens.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dark desire View Post
    Now I am a puny figure to to say this as there is pun intended here (earnestly requesting people here to take it not very seriously). So I will bring in other giants whom I love. Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism.

    I started reading Great Expectations and my expectations were betrayed. :-D I could no go past 50 pages. So... what is wrong with Charles Dickens? Will people better acquainted with Charles Dickens shed some light here? Well developed fierce responses are most welcomed. Please avoid venting frustration here, that is not going to make any point here.
    Great Expectations was the first Dickens book that I read voluntarily. I did not like Dickens much at school. Why couldn't you get past 50 pages? I expected GE to be a turgid and filled with archaic words, but it wasn't really. The style took a bit of getting used to. I would not say it was a page turner, but I doubt it was meant to be. It was written to be consumed in weekly or monthly installments. What slowed me down most was that it was emotionally quite painful, so I never felt like reading more than a chapter or two at a time. I cannot see how Dickens could be accused of a lack of psychological depth. Psychological depth is what he does outstandingly well, but only for certain characters. It would be a bit rich of Wilde to accuse Dickens of sentimentality. Have you read the Happy Prince?

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    Lost in the Fog PabloQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dark desire View Post
    Who are other authors that resemble Dickens in style, in your opinion, in classic literature?
    You might want to try something else by Dickens from his earlier works like Oliver Twist or David Copperfield. You might get into the story more quickly and the ground is rich with characters. If you feel you have to bail out on Dickens try something by Anthony Trollope.
    No damn cat, no damn cradle - Newt Honniker

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    There are people who Dickens just doesn't work for. I like Dickens, but his novels are largely vehicles for the expression of ideas, and at their strongest they are environments for eccentric and memorable characters.
    Agreed to an extent - but I think what is left out here is the language. Some of the most eloquently phrased, and yes, on occasion a bit over the top, passages can be found throughout his novels.

    The thing about a Victorian tome - and I find this most in Dickens and Eliot - is the ability to drew you in so completely, to the point where everything else just dissolves. I was re-reading Barnaby Rudge recently on a bus, and it took about twenty minutes after I should have gotten off for me to realize I missed my stop.

    There are authors who I can appreciate and enjoy more than Dickens, but I find his works (Dombey and Son being the exception) more engaging than most.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Eiseabhal
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    Great Expectations is a lovely book. Funny, sad, playful, tragic. Dickens was good in lots of his books at juxtaposing the child's view of the world against the adults and creating ironic humour. Many of his characters are caricatures rather than rounded personalities but that is half the charm and fun.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    We may not see Miss Havisham's inner life and thoughts, but gosh, as an image for manipulative self-abuse and a perverse exercise of power, she is unforgettable. And then in her death there is genuine sympathy and pathos, which is not there in her magnificent self-pity.

    I can pile up what's the matter with Dickens -sentimentality, melodrama, caricature - but when it comes to it, you can't beat him.

    The dialogue tends to go on a bit to my mind but the descriptions are wonderful.

    I must say the opening of GE is one of the best passages in Dickens, Pip's loneliness made so vivid, and the scene in the graveyard.

    But some people like some things, some others. I've tried to get Henry James, but I've never quite clicked.
    Last edited by Jackson Richardson; 11-20-2012 at 06:06 PM.
    Previously JonathanB

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    Registered User mona amon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    It would be a bit rich of Wilde to accuse Dickens of sentimentality. Have you read the Happy Prince?
    Ha! Good point.

    Dickens is one of my favourite authors. He writes so supremely well most of the time that his faults just don't matter. There's something so real about the world he creates, his sympathy and humanity, his magnificent array of characters, and above all, he's written some of the funniest prose in the english language.

    Great Expectations was my first Dickens as well.
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

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