Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Classics Spin: Dickens and Eliot

Yes, my kindle cover has elephants on it.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Charles Dickens
1870 (left unfinished)
Why did you have to go and die, Dickens, and leave this unfinished? I have so many questions. And not just questions, burning questions. I'd wanted to read this ever since watching the BBC adaptation last year (amazing, by the way, totally worth a watch) so I was really pleased it came up on the spin. I wasn't quite prepared though for how abruptly it ends and how unresolved it all is. Still, as usual the language and characterisation is, well, spectacular and I'm pleased to announce that I loved The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

John Jasper was suitably freaky, Edwin Drood suitably irritating, and Rosa Bud suitably pathetic. The highlight of the novel by far was Rosa's guardian, the lawyer Grewgious (his clerk Mr Bazzard is pretty brill too). In Dickens there is usually one character that sticks in my mind and Grewgious is joining the likes of Joe Gargery and Mr Micawber as one of my favourites. He, a bit like Mr Bucket in Bleak House I think, is one of those outside characters that is able to judge the situation in order for the reader to see it as it is. Smart fellow. Mostly, I just love the way he speaks.

'I am a particularly Angular man, and yet I fancy (if I may use the word, not having a morsel of fancy), that i could draw a picture of a true lover's state of mind, tonight.'

The Lifted VeilGeorge Eliot

'While the heart beats, bruise it - it is your only opportunity'

I felt a bit let down by The Lifted Veil. I've read Middlemarch (loved it) and The Mill on the Floss (also loved it) and I was really quite intrigued by the whole George-Eliot-does-gothic-fiction-in-a-novella deal. It was an interesting read, a typically intellectual read and at times even a bit spooky but there was just something missing. All the way through I was just waiting for something to happen that actually made it gothic fiction. I don't know, maybe I just missed the whole point of it. Maybe I was meant to just take from it some kind of moral about the dangers of knowing the future and how you should just live in the moment and take each day rather than waiting for something you know will eventually happen. I guess the quote I've slipped in above demonstrates that...do things while you still can because, before long, it will be too late.

Ok, maybe I did take more from it than I thought. I think it just was not the sort of enjoyable reading experience I previously attributed to George Eliot. Although, to be fair, I read Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss way back when I was at school so I could have the old rose tinted nostalgia glasses on...Still, this one may benefit from a re-read in 10 years time.


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