The Gospel in Dickens
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June 06, 2009


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Bravo, Gina! Bravo! Very well said! I think you have neatly described Simmons' perspective of Wilkie. I think the section quoted above shows us what jealousy, combined with several lethal doses of laudanum, can do to a writer of Wilkie's ilk competing with the "Boz".

I think your general observations on the structure of the novel are pretty well spot-on too; and that there are interesting threads that do get sadly lost. All in all, I was glad that I read the book. It was thought provoking, and did cause me to go out and spend some time researching both authors. I came away knowing a lot more about Dickens and Collins, and a greater appreciation and interest in both of their works. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on "Drood" with all of us. Cheers!

Thank YOU for weighing in -- it's nice to chat about the book with someone else who's read it!

I may add another Collins book or two to my reading list, too. I've read "The Woman in White" and "The Moonstone," and I've been told they're his greatest, but "Armadale" and "Man and Wife" sound pretty interesting.

I can only agree -- much too long, too clever, too artificial. Yet I kept reading and really appreciated some of the hyper-theatrical scenes and the vividness of the characters. A much shorter, but still stilted (in my opinion) novel is Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens. I read them one after the other, then The Mystery of Edwin Drood, then Dickens by Fred Kaplan. Whew! Now on to some peripheral Dickens, maybe Sketches by Boz.

By the way has anyone been really successful at fictionalizing lives of authors? I liked Author, Author, by David Lodge and the more well-known treatment of Henry James, The Master, by Colm Toibin. Otherwise, not so much.

I'm glad I read this review because I'd been thinking about reading "Drood" and now I know not to. I have trouble enjoying Real Person Fiction in the first place because it feels intrusive, and when they portray someone I like and respect in a negative light, I know it'll just make me mad to read it.

The long passage you quoted is odd, because if Dickens is a better writer than Collins - as I'd say he is in many respects, though not all - it's not because of his scenic description! Collins does atmosphere as well or better, and I never come away from a Dickens novel with a strong sense of *place*. It's Dickens' character descriptions (his way of giving you a whole person in a single quick brushstroke) and the wittiness of his style that I see as the heart of his genius.

There are too many loose ends, it left me unsatisfied- what was that thing in the stairwell which ate the tusked woman? And why do we never learn Droods true nature? I am inclined to dismiss it as a very long opium dream of Wilkies.

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