why the Dickens…

4 Mar

…. didn’t I know how funny Dickens was?

When I was 18 I resolved to read the entire works of Dickens. I got as far as none at all.

It’s only this month that I finally read my first one – Great Expectations. I had heard that Great Expectations was really depressing. Who told me that? Charles Dickens was so witty that even though he’s often describing poverty and bad situations, he does it with bags of humour. It’s a long book, but every chapter is enjoyable.

He’s famed for his outlandish characters. My personal fave in this one is the clerk who is very dour and severe at work, but in his spare time has constructed a mock castle with a drawbridge and a cannon in central London. Even though they’re purposely a bit caricatured, he’s so good at drawing characters that you do end up really loving them (or really loathing them).

There are two hilarious passages where Pip goes to watch a dreadful actor in dreadful plays. I really think that Dickens must actually have gone to the version of Hamlet that he describes, where the audience are so fed up that they start shouting out suggestions to the actors.

If I could be bothered to go back downstairs and get the book I would quote some examples of hilarious passages. It was almost like reading P G Woodhouse in places.

So, if, like me, you have never got round to reading any Dickens and are worried it will be a depressing slog, please bother, cos it’s not. You will actually laugh out loud.

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4 Responses to “why the Dickens…”

  1. Simon T 08/03/2011 at 12:35 am #

    Hurrah! Will link to this soon… it will hopefully make people give Dickens a try – I think one of the problems is that his humour is mostly through language and style, and thus is ignored in the TV adaptations – which tend to focus on the gloom.

  2. Colin 08/03/2011 at 10:48 pm #

    You obviously haven’t tried Hard Times…

  3. Susan in TX 27/03/2011 at 12:48 am #

    Yes, Hard Times has a character with a speech impediment…then there’s The Pickwick Papers. I giggled all the way through that one. So glad you are enjoying your foray into Dickens. (I followed a comment of yours from Simon’s blog to get here, btw.)

  4. Dark Puss 27/03/2011 at 4:46 pm #

    If only! I’ve tried Dickens on a number of occasions and I can’t really get the humour to work and I have never laughed (or indeed chuckled) out loud at all while reading his novels, including Pickwick Papers which I gave up on.

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