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Thread: Which is your favorite Dickens novel?

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    Which is your favorite Dickens novel?

    Which is your personal favorite? It may not be technically his best.

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    It's a difficult question to answer. Not because I love them all (I don't and anyway I haven't read them all) but because I find myself liking and disliking the same novels. I love the wacky characters in Bleak House (Smallweed, Crook, Mrs. Flite, Mr. Turvydrop, et al.) but I find the too good Esther Summerson irritating to listen to--and she is the narrator. I love the lowlife characters in Oliver Twist but not the the "moral life" characters they are compared to (it wasn't Nancy's fault she was a wh*re--they should have been nicer to her). Of course, it doesn't help that the novel's most interesting character is a blatant antisemitic caricature. And A Christmas Carol is, well, A Christmas Carol. It's glorious and funny and moving, but it's such a holiday cliche these days that it's hard to think of it as a Dickens novel.

    So to answer your question, maybe those three?
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-27-2019 at 05:22 PM.
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    My favourite is Great Expectations. The most moving book I've read as an adult. Dickens' best written book was probably Bleak House.
    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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    I'd choose David Copperfield. For me, the first third of that novel is about as good as literature gets. The vivid intensity is amazing. And the characters are so alive it almost frightens you. Most novelists struggle to create just one memorable character in their entire career; Dickens creates half a dozen in this novel alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    My favourite is Great Expectations. .
    So far as I can tell, most critics would agree that this is his best work. They seem to be divided between Great Expectations and Bleak House. Orwell wrote a superb essay on Dickens in which he claimed that the final half of Great Expectations is the best thing Dickens ever did. But then how should you judge an artist - by the art you consider technically best or the art that gives you most pleasure? I'm not sure. No doubt there are people who recognize the genius of Bleak House and Great Expectations but actually enjoy Nicholas Nickleby or Oliver Twist more.

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    Great Expectations probably. Scrooge isn't anti-Semitic. You can't expect every Semitic character to be a paragon of virtue. I like the range of scenes and characters in The Old Curiosity Shop. I used to worry about the tendency to caricature in Dickens but now I enjoy it. Is that me relaxing my standards because I'm being entertained? Maybe. He had an enormous imagination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post
    Scrooge isn't anti-Semitic.
    No, neither is Smallweed. I think Dickens tried to tone things down after Fagin. Supposedly the London Jewish community complained to him during the serialization of Oliver Twist, so that Dickens stops calling him "Fagin the Jew" about midway through the novel. The problem with Fagin is that in addition to being a racial stereotype, he's also an awesome character. I wish he wasn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post
    I used to worry about the tendency to caricature in Dickens but now I enjoy it.
    Me too. After a while you realize the characters/caricatures transcend most of the stories. Flora Finching, for example, is a better character than Little Dorrit is a novel. It's like these personae go on living somewhere else.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-28-2019 at 05:58 PM.
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    I'm partial to Great Expectations because it had a profound impact on me as a teenager.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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    Well if the story about Dickens and the London ethnic group is true it shows his ability to respond to criticism. Not all East Coast Scots are mean but... some are. Not all Highland teuchters drink whisky copiously ... but some do. Not all East Londoners are crooks ... but some are. Not all dwarves are nasty... but Quilp is.

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    Not all Bostonians are Puritan prigs but--hey!
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    I've only read David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Bleak House. Copperfield is ok, but certainly not worth the page count, Twist is two pretty good stories which when combined become a complete mess and Bleak House is actually really good.

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    My tongue-in-cheek reference to Quilp really means that he is to dwarves as Donald Duck is to ducks

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    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post
    My tongue-in-cheek reference to Quilp really means that he is to dwarves as Donald Duck is to ducks
    To me, he'll always be Anthony Newley.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    So, oddly enough I've never read Dickens. I know, I may deserve a good spanking. So Victorians aren't really my thing these days, but how can I go on saying I've never read Dickens! So what might be a good recommendation for someone like me who has an inclination towards Huxley and Hesse and leans towards the philosophical and metaphysical and likes the romantics and their modern progeny? Can't say I'm much into literary realism and naturalism, which i take Dickens to represent (I guess), but is there anything that spares me the external horrors of the world and rather tends towards the self-referential and psychological?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekimhtims View Post
    So, oddly enough I've never read Dickens. I know, I may deserve a good spanking. So Victorians aren't really my thing these days, but how can I go on saying I've never read Dickens! So what might be a good recommendation for someone like me who has an inclination towards Huxley and Hesse and leans towards the philosophical and metaphysical and likes the romantics and their modern progeny? Can't say I'm much into literary realism and naturalism, which i take Dickens to represent (I guess), but is there anything that spares me the external horrors of the world and rather tends towards the self-referential and psychological?
    Dickens is more a pre-curson to naturalism, his novels are sometimes classified as social realism because of their semi-journalistic interest in shedding light on social injustices. However, Dickens' literary style is more of an extension of eighteenth-century English picaresque with larger than life characters.

    Great Expectations is probably his most psychological novel though psychology wasn't a thing in the early to mid 19th century.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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