I have decided to blog about Charles Dickens, or, more specifically, to blog about my experience reading, and reading about, Dickens. Why? The main reason, I imagine, is that I have been sorely unable to finish a novel (outside of novels read for school) for probably close to two years; I have a terrible record of picking up books, dipping greedily inside them, and then absonding from them utterly, like a coward; and if each of these books were instead meals, I’d have on my hands many a disgruntled and repulsed relative, friend, and waitress. So at any rate is my literary affliction; and so then is my hoped-for cure: that by reading, and reading about, Dickens, and blogging about him publicly, I might wedge myself into an uncomfortably fruitful position of being forcd to read and write; and that, in doing so, I might battle – better yet, strangle – the imp of drooling idleness and distraction that seems to beset me whenever I chance once again on a book I’d like to read but alas cannot come near to finishing.
But as this blog is intended to be about Dickens, some further opening remarks are necessary, pertaining I would hope to my background regarding Dickens, what I have read by him in the past, my impression of him as a writer, etc.
I haven’t read much. Maybe 3/4 of Great Expectations, 1/2 of the Pickwick Paperes – that’s it. But I remember being attracted to some of the books’ characters’ hilarious boldness, the extravagancy and wit of these characters, and the fierceness and relentlessness of the Dickensian verboseness, which seemed to be capable of juggling, in a near-preposterous synthesis, the most close and detailed observations with the most distant big-picture, large-canvas sort of vision. Tolstoyan in scope and detail. Dostoyevskian in richness of character. And, like the 19th century Russian novelists, a genius for capturing – like a Warhold or an Ashbery in the 20th century – the variegated and complicated lineaments of an age.
So that’s where I’ll start – on some nebulous note of (probably unrealistic?) hope. I’ll be beginning with Dickens by Peter Akroyd, a biography, and David Copperfield, one of Dickens’ most famous novels. Wish me luck! (Or better yet, wish me concentration.)