I'm not a big fan of Charles Dickens. Whenever I've gone to England (all two times), I've made a point of not visiting his house/museum. When I play Authors with my grandson, I don't care if he wins the Dickens book. I think Dickens had an ugly beard. And I've only ever read one book of his all the way through. I was supposed to read Great Expectations as part of the coursework for my English major in college, and, although I started it with some enthusiasm (graveyards, fog, murderers -- it sounded so promising!), I quickly got bogged down by the annoying Pip and Estella, and I never finished it. Not until ten years ago, anyway, when Stanford University started putting up facsimiles of serialized Victorian novels as a Community Read project. Their first one was Great Expectations. (They did some Sherlock Holmes stories later on.) I thought it would be cool to read it the way a Victorian did. Reading it because I wanted to, in serial form, was considerably easier and somewhat more interesting than reading it because my professor told me to, in outrageously priced paperback form.
But I'm still not a big fan of Dickens. I've seen several film adaptations of his books (one Great Expectations, one Nicholas Nickleby, two Tale of Two Cities, three Oliver Twists, and about 17 Christmas Carols), and most of them I enjoyed. My favorite Christmas Carol is the one with Mr Magoo.
But I'm still not a big fan of Dickens. I think it's because a) his plots always seem to be so dependent on unbelievable coincidences; b) he behaved wretchedly to his wife; and c) I've never been able to forgive the musical Oliver! for winning the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1968 over Romeo and Juliet.
How can this not deserve better than all that Oliverian singing and larking about?
And now I've got the odious "Who will buy?" stuck in my head! Dat-rat the dad-ratted...!
But I've decided I ought to give Charles Dickens another try. I have three reasons for doing so. First, it seems only logical that I, an English major of yore, ought to know more about one of the most popular authors in the English language that isn't Nora Roberts or James Patterson. Second, it appeals to the part of me that is attracted to the Neo-Victorian/Steampunk aesthetic. Third, the Guardian on-line had a really hard Dickens quiz yesterday. I could only answer two questions out of 47. But in the section on identifying the speaker, there was this quote (from, I learned, David Copperfield): "There's a babby fur you, in the form of a great Sea Porkypine!" What a great line! I have got to work that into a conversation at some point in my life. And anyone who came up with that line deserves closer scrutiny.