Blogger Marianne Goss, in a post titled "Alternative approaches to Dickens," writes that, when Dickens's wordiness wore her down, she went looking for other ways to enjoy his work:
I wouldn’t abandon Dickens’s novels, I’d watch them in performance. With his vivid descriptions of people and places and his masterful dialogue, Dickens is ideal for dramatization.
We all know there a lot of great Dickens adaptations out there, and certainly Dickens adapted is better than no Dickens at all. But I would tell Goss, if I had the opportunity, that one misses so much of Dickens's magic without his words. I'm not saying the words can't be difficult. Sometimes I have to wrestle with them. Sometimes, to be completely honest, they wear me down too. Recently, listening to an excellent audiobook of Our Mutual Friend recommended by my friend Kaitlyn, I had to take a break for a while when I got to the passage about Mr. Boffin's big reveal. It's not one of my favorite passages in Dickens, to put it mildly. And unfortunately, when you're dealing with an audiobook, it's not so easy skipping your least favorite passages.
But eventually I picked it back up and pressed play again, because even when he's not at his best, Dickens's words are worth it. I always come out happier and better for having read (or heard) them. So enjoy the adaptations by all means, but don't stay stuck there. Read them in installments if you have to -- another idea of Goss's, and one that I hope she follows through with -- but read them. In the end, you'll be glad you did.
Popular website The Toast, just before it ended operations last month, ran this fantastic in-depth essay about Miss Havisham, including a look at her origins in real life, a character analysis, and a consideration of her similarities with Dickens himself. Don't miss it!
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a partial mystery and therefore a perfect mystery. Those who have read mystery stories from Sherlock Holmes to Hercule Poirot will know that the solution is never as wonderful as the problem. As it stands, the story of Edwin Drood is half told, with six parts out of an intended twelve drafted. In some of the final words to fall from Dickens’ pen, Datchery the detective has his epiphany before famously falling to his breakfast with an appetite. The line he scores in chalk in the cupboard door beforehand is a boundary that the world may never cross into a tale that will never be told. This murder will never out. The clues will never be separated from the blinds. The mystery of Drood will remain inviolate and eternal, retaining that perfection of mystery, that sense of immortality.
On the anniversary of Dickens's death on Thursday, The Atlantic examined two very differing accounts of his character, and suggested that we reconcile his dark and light sides by studying him through the prism of A Tale of Two Cities:
"Yet in fictionalizing his story, Dickens placed himself into his characters—his initials, his demons, his childhood sweetheart in Lucie—just as Carton steps into Darnay’s body. Carton’s famous last words could have been spoken by Dickens himself: 'It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.'"
Novelist Virginia Woolf was notoriously not a big fan of Dickens. Yet poet and critic Andre Gerard argues that Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway was heavily influenced by Great Expectations -- that in fact, the former can be seen as "a strong rewriting" of the latter.