Monday, January 31, 2011

Thoughts: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Part 2)

I now understand what people mean when they say that dear old Charlie can be wordy. So far, I've read 200 pages of Great Expectations out of 442 (I own a Penguin Popular Classics edition), and, aside from three major events, nothing much has happened. The characters are also proliferating at a somewhat alarming rate... kinda like bunnies.

But I really like Miss Havisham. (I find her vindictiveness utterly delicious.) I once read a blog that asked, Who doesn't know Miss Havisham? Well, before I read Great Expectations, I hadn't heard of her at all.

Now, I'm glad to say I've become acquainted with her moldy wedding cake and yellowed wedding gown. I'm afraid the crazy old bat has found a place in my heart, which I think Pip was supposed to fill. This sounds lame but Pip is OK, just OK. I can tolerate his whining and his semi-social-climbing ways, because I can understand where he's coming from. Dickens laid it out for me in about 200 pages. How could I not? HA HA.

Speaking of HA HA, I can't believe Dickens made me laugh, especially his tongue-in-cheek way of poking fun at characters. A lot of people have said that he's quite funny, but he died 141 years ago... I didn't think I'd get his humor.

After finishing the first part of Great Expectations, I can't really see why so much of it was necessary. If you cut about 100 pages from the 200 I've already read, the book will still be pretty understandable. I'm trying to keep in mind, though, that Great Expectations was serialized, and that Dickens was trying to earn a living. If I was paid for every word I wrote, I'd try to be as wordy as possible too.

On to Chapter Twenty-Seven...

10 comments:

Kristi said...

I love Miss Havisham too! She is one of the most memorable characters. I agree that Dickens is a bit verbose. Funny that you mention that it was serialized. Maybe he was trying to stretch it out. He did have to pay for that gaggle of children, a wife, and a mistress. I love his books but they take me longer to get through than most. I hope you continue to enjoy it!

Trisha said...

Havisham is the only reason I've considered picking up the book. Most of my knowledge of her comes from Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, and she seemed so wonderfully unique that I almost, almost, picked up Dickens.

Avid Reader said...

I read this one last year and loved it. Miss Havisham is such a fantastic character. I agree that Dickens has an impressive ability to say in 300 pages what anyone else could say in 50, but he does create some brilliant characters. I finished David Copperfiled last week and I had to keep reminding myself that his writing is all about the characters, not the plot so much.

Sam said...

The verbosity is one of the reasons why I have stayed away from Dickens so far. But I'm enjoyed your posts about this book and I'm starting to think I might have to give it a go soon.

Aarti said...

I really want to reread Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, but I think the wordiness might drive me insane! I love the period and the idea of the story, but I feel like it may take more out of me than I am willing to give...

Misha said...

Miss Havisham is unforgettable! Dickens is realy funny - Love his brand of humour! All his characters are always so colourful and quirky (except Pip!).

Nymeth said...

Most of the Victorians just can't seem to be able to help themselves when it comes to wordiness :P But I still love them so. This is on my must read list for this year. I can't believe I never have.

Zibilee said...

Ms. Havisham is a character that i will never forget. I felt by turns sorry for her and enraged at her, and she was by far the character that stuck in my mind the most well after I had finished the book. I also liked Pip, but he had some pretty annoying proclivities, and I at times I couldn't stand him. I had to keep remembering that he was almost a child, and as such, he did childish things, but he could be so frustrating! I am so glad to see that you are giving this book a blow by blow examination, because there is just so much to talk about within it! I loved this book, if you can't tell by now, and I will be interested in reading your further thoughts.

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Kristi: I've heard a lot of things about his eccentric characters, and I got my first taste of them through Miss Havisham. I'm reading Oliver Twist this February, and I'm looking forward to a new cast of Dickensian characters. :)

Trisha: I've never read anything by Jasper Fforde. I really should look him up.

Avid Reader: I loved your review of David Copperfield, and I'm really looking forward to reading the book. I completely agree that he puts a ton of details into his characters.

Sam: Even if Dickens is more than a little wordy, I don't regret picking up his work. The characters are worth it. You should give him a try. :)

Aarti: I haven't read A Tale of Two Cities yet, but I've been eying a copy of it for months now. I think it has the best first line ever.

Misha: I completely agree. Also, I loved your review of Great Expectations. :)

Nymeth: I intend to read a lot of Victorians this year, particularly Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Not looking forward to the wordiness.

Zibilee: My last post on this book will be up tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to your comments. :) I found Pip annoying, too, but I loved the other characters, especially Miss Havisham, Joe, and Magwitch. It's funny that the main protagonist was Pip, but the minor characters were more interesting.

Kerry said...

I want to re-read this (haven't read it since 8th-grade English class), but I remember the wordiness and serial nature being irritating the first time around. I thought maybe a second reading wouldn't be so bothersome... sounds like I may have been wrong about that. I guess that's the danger of serializing novels and paying by the word, though.

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