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Thread: Favorite Charles Dickens novel

  1. #1
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    Favorite Charles Dickens novel

    I'm a big fan of Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities remains a powerful, exciting adventure novel with an epic and a prophetic voice behind it, with thoroughly allegorical and primeval feeling. A Christmas Carol has the energy of an allegory with the concise feature of a novella.

    Great Expectations is not a novel I immediately thrilled to while reading, but it has lingered in my memory as perhaps one of Dickens's most mature, retrospective, elegaic novels.

    David Copperfield was a bit too long for my taste, but I thought it was a great novel overall, filled with some of the best prose and some of my favorite literary characters - Mr. Micawber, David Copperfield, Betsy Trotwood, Uriah Heep.

    And now I am in the midst of swimming in the wide billows of Dickens's big epic megalosaurus of a mega-novel - Bleak House, the novel where he, in Chesterton's words, "grew up." I'd say this may come close to becoming my favorite novel, replacing A Tale of Two Cities. I am awed by the control of the two voices - the omniscient, cinematic, present narrator, with his command of moralizing and poetry in his voice, and the voice of Esther Summerson, which develops and shifts and carries with it its own elegaic, reserved power that captures the Dickens rhetoric. I think Bleak House, in a way unique among all his novels, captures Dickens' powers of rhetoric at a fever pitch. This makes me think, more than his other works, that Dickens was one of literature's great masters of rhetoric.

    So, what is your favorite Dickens novel, and why? What do you think of his earlier work - Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist - as compared to his later work - Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, Hard Times, Great Expectations?

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I have read A Christmas Carol, Hard Times, Oliver Twist, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Great Expectations was my favourite. Oliver Twist is one of his earliest novels and often counted one of his worst. I suppose it had some unpleasant antisemitism and the middle section was rather dull. However, it still had some great characters, great social history and great writing. I cannot say I really liked Hard Time and Tale of Two Citoes overmuch He is patchy, but when he really made the effort he wrote some superb stuff. I liked the double narration of Bleak House too
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    A Tale of Two Cities was my first Dickens favorite. In fact it was my first contact with the author trough a very poor comics version. But it made me want to read more and it made me want to learn English.
    Today it is difficult to tell, which is my favorite novel. I love the whole Dickens world, but there are some novels I prefer to others apart from A Tale of Two Cities as David Copperfield,Great Expectations ,The Pickwick Papers, Dombey and Son and the tale A Christmas Carol.
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 06-06-2016 at 11:06 PM.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Bleak House every time. From the fog of Chancery Lane to the rain at Chesney Wold it drips atmosphere!

    And Little Dorrit as runner up. That has the most powerful allegorical sense of them all with the Marshalsea Prison a microcosm of the prison in which peoplle are imprisoned by society or imprison themselves (as does housebound Mrs Clenam - one of Dickens' most poweful characters.)
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    Of those I've read A Christmas Carol is my favorite, simply because of the emotional journey it takes me on. I couldn't tell you about allegory or construction or anything, I don't know why it works, or why I find it so involving - lets put it down to Dickens' genius. I go through the ringer every time I read it and the joy at the end is so infectious it cheers me up for days.

    I like Pickwick Papers as well, for the humour.
    ay up

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    Registered User hellsapoppin's Avatar
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    Bleak House

    Dickens was perhaps the greatest fiction writer of the modern era. I've read several of his works and find that his short fiction was rather under rated. His best novel and, indeed my favorite, is and will always be Bleak House. Chapter One is full of symbols which set the table for the reader. Words such as mud, smoke, mourning, and fog reveal what this great tome is all about. Ah, that word fog ~ used repeatedly to denote the occlusion that is the subject of the book. That great occlusion, that great nightmare being chancery. "If all the injustice it has committed and all the misery it has caused could only be locked up with it, and the whole burnt away in a great funeral pyre—why so much the better for {all}".

    Chancery ~ where dreams go to die. A corrupt system comprised of predatory and unjust legal vultures and vampires. "This is the Court of Chancery, which has its decaying houses and its blighted lands in every shire; which has its worn out lunatic in every madhouse, and its dead in every churchyard; which has its ruined suitor, with his slipshod heels and threadbare dress, borrowing and begging ... there is not an honorable man among its practitioners who would not give - who does not often give - the warning, "Suffer any wrong that can be done you, rather than come here!"

    The book is filled with characters who are so real with many whose lives are haunted by the evils of the corrupt judicial system and the politicians who enable it. So many somehow survive the great ordeal that fate bestows on them.

    Law vs justice. Social mobility, class, passion, even madness ~ all impacted by chancery.
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

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