Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thoughts: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Part 1)

I just started reading Great Expectations (I've reached Chapter Two). The only Dickens I've read so far is A Christmas Carol so this is my first "full-length" Dickens (Dickensian?) novel, and I'm really excited about it.

The novel's first chapter is really atmospheric, containing vivid descriptions of the marshland and the graveyard. Things begin in quite an exciting manner too, because, our protagonist, a boy named Pip, is turned upside-down at the graveyard by some guy who also stole his bread. Good stuff. And I'm not even being sarcastic.

While reading, I keep getting this feeling that Great Expectations or maybe Dickens's work in general should be read aloud. The rrrrr sounds in this passage, for example, tickled my ear when I read it out loud:
"A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin."
So far, Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, has made me laugh out loud, especially when she's abusing her fair husband. I also like the easy camaraderie between Pip and his brother-in-law Joe, despite the twenty-year age difference. I want to see what's going to happen to all of them, especially with that man in the graveyard. We haven't been formally introduced yet.

I'm just feeling my way blindly as I go along, because I know very little about the plot of Great Expectations. I didn't look up the summary on purpose, because I like the sense of mystery that goes with not knowing almost anything about the book you're reading.

On to Chapter Three...


mel u said...

If you have not already done so, consider signing up for the Oliver Twist read along-

Feb 7 big Dickens day-200th birthday

Misha said...

I love Dickens and Great Expectations is my favourite novel by him . I hope you enjoy the book as you progress further.

Amanda said...

I've read three Dickens novels and I admit this one is the only one I liked. I hope you enjoy it!

Sam said...

The only Dickens I have read is A Christmas Carol too. I'm resisting reading any more for some reason!

Kristi said...

I loved this one. Miss Havisham is one of the best characters ever. I hope you continue to enjoy it.

I'm just like you. I love to go into a book knowing as little as possible about the plot. Preferably nothing.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I really like Dickens in general, though Great Expectations is perhaps my least favorite of the many novels I've read. Not that it's bad, mind you. My least favorite Dickens is still leagues ahead of much that I read! Hope your experience of reading it is better than mine.

Allie said...

I actually can't stand Dickens. :) That is probably slightly unfair to say, but of the three books I am have finished by him, I have only enjoyed one (Christmas Carol). The other two were this one and Bleak House. I think I am just too impatient for his long-windedness. But I will continue to try and now that I am almost 100 pages into Oliver Twist...well, I kind of like that one! Maybe it will be a turning point??

I love that you mentioned reading it out loud. Chances are, way back when, it was read aloud when families would read together in the evenings.

Maybe that's where I am going wrong? ;)

Shelley said...

I love this book! So entertaining and funny.

Elizabeth said...


When you visited my blog you commented that you like historical romance....have you read: THE TEA ROSE and THE WINTER ROSE by Jennifer Donnelly?

They are set in a small town outside of London I think back in the 1800's. Jack the Ripper and how the tea bag was invented. :)

Nice meeting you.

I have been a follower.

Trisha said...

I have *gasp* never read Dickens. There is something about him that just doesn't appeal for me. I may have to rectify that in the future (we'll see how you like this one). :)

Shannyn (Libellule) said...

I'm not a Dickens scholar AT ALL (I've only read this years ago and A Christmas Carol last year), but you are exactly right about Dickens being meant to be read aloud. It was a huge family activity in the time period he wrote in, at night, by the fire, taking turns reading aloud. (They had no TV, so books were a major entertainment source.) I even tried it when reading A Christmas Carol for a little bit.

I have fond memories of reading Great Expectations in school, and I hope you enjoy it!

(Also, your blog title is kind of awesome!)

Jenny O. said...

Dickens may have written many of his novels to be read aloud. He toured often and read many of his novels aloud to public crowds, as well as his friends and family. He also acted in plays...I think he had a role in Wilkie Collins' "The Frozen Deep," a play about the Franklin Expedition.

Here is a link to some infor on his public readings (and even a picture):


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