November 09, 2009

The Charles Dickens Journey

Without really planning it 2009 has turned into a bit of a Charles Dickens year for me. I have to say that university English study had turned me off reading any more Dickens but as I grow older I find that I am wanting to revisit some of the novels that caused me so much grief when I had to read, interpret, deconstruct and then write endless essays on them!
Earlier this year I read Drood and even though it was a fictional interpretation of the last years of Dickens' life I still found that it intrigued me into wanting to find out more about this author and his numerous written works. Other fictional works relating to Dickens that I have read this year include Girl in a Blue Dress and Wanting -both of which I loved.
In our recent trip to London I continued my year of exploring Dickens. We saw a wonderful performance of Oliver at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane - I thought it was a great interpretation of the story - with fantastic humour thrown in courtesy of Omid Djalili who plays Fagin.
I rounded out our trip with a visit to the Charles Dickens House Museum - the only surviving London residence of Dickens and where he wrote some of his novels, including Oliver Twist.
So, when we got back home I was in the mood to actually pick up a Dickens novel and when I headed to Borders I found one of the beautiful new Penguin hardcover editions of Oliver Twist which has come home with me. I now just have to move past my mental block that says Dickens = study and I will be able to start reading it!

Do you have a favourite novel of Dickens? Do you have a favourite novel about him and his life?


Jodie said...

I love that book, I just wish I didn't hate 'Oliver' (if it was 'David Copperfield' I would fight people for it). I've never been to the Drury theatre, what's it like inside (modern, or very original?)

Nadia said...

I'll be honest and admit that I have yet to read any Dickens, except for A Christmas Carol and that was because I was in a play of A Christmas Carol. I wouldn't mind reading some Dickens though, not sure which one to start with. Any recommendations?

Amanda said...

Oh I've totally been in a Dickens mood since reading "The Last Dickens". I recently finished The Mystery of Edwin Drood which was so good but annoying since it's unfinished. And then watched Bleak House on TV w/ Gillian Anderson as Lady Deadlock. So so good. That might be my favorite Dickens novel. I'm going to have to read it.

I also watched Oliver Twist, the 2007 version w/ Timothy Spall as Fagin. I loved this version! I think this is the year I tackel A Christmas Carol.

JaneGS said...

It's interesting how some authors seem to take over your life for awhile, sometimes it's not even planned that way :)

I read a lot of Dickens when I was young--I read Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Pickwick Papers several times as a teenager, then Bleak House, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities in college, plus lots of Xmas stories along the way. About 15 years ago, I decided to read Dickens in order.

I liked Nicholas Nickleby immensely and was all geared up for a wild Dickens ride, but fell off the wagon at Old Curiosity Shop. I simply couldn't wait for Little Nell to die so I could stop reading that book! Maybe too much and too exclusively.

My next Dickens will probably be Hard Times so that I can compare it to Gaskell's North and South.

My favorite Dickens? Pickwick. I love the ghost stories and Sam Weller and the Christmas party and the travelling and the eating/drinking.

Frances said...

Ooo, I bought this edition of Oliver Twist too. Could not resist. That whole Penguin design trap again for me. And Great Expectations is my favorite Dickens.

Karen said...

Hi Jodie - The theatre seemed to be a really good mix of the original with some modern touches. I thought it was amazing but my theatre going experiences are pretty limited!

Hi Nadia - I would read the descriptions of the Dickens novels and see what one takes your fancy!

Hi Amanda - A Christmas Carol is on my list too!

Hi Jane - thanks for your wonderful post - it sounds like you are quite the Dickens expert - you might have to help me guide my reading in the coming months.

Hi Frances - they are so easy to fall for aren't they?

Susie Yamaguchi said...

Great Expectations is my favourite Dickens (that I've read so far), Miss Havisham is such a fascinating character, you have to admire her stubbornness.
I'm planning to read Little Dorrit next in the hope that the ABC will finally screen the TV series here soon!

Anonymous said...

I have a growing interest in Dickens, whom I haven't read since high school (too many years ago to count). I admit, part of what's drawing him to me now is the fact that Nick Hornby loves Dickens. Heck, if Nick Hornby loves you, you can't be all bad!

Anonymous said...

I love those Penguin editions! I've never read Oliver Twist, so I suppose I can get the two birds with the same stone, etc. My favorite Dickens is David Copperfield, closely followed by Great Expectations. I need to read more Dickens for sure!

Karen said...

Hi Sujiko - I know I have read Great Expectations in the past but I think my memory for all but the most stand out things has faded so I might need to re-read I think!

Hi eveningreader - I didn't know that info about Nick Hornby and I totally agree with you - if Nick is on board then so am I!

Hi tuulenhaiven - I think that book is a perfect excuse to read more Dickens!

Anonymous said...

Those Penguin editions are so lovely...*dreamy sigh*. Despite also suffering from the kind of Dickens=study classical conditioning that accompanies University English courses, once I tamp down the rising fear that I'm going to be asked to write a 5000 word essay at the end of the novel I really enjoy Dickens. My two Favourites are Hard Times (so funny!) and Great Expectations.

Karen said...

Hi aowl - Everyone seems to be recommending Great Expectations so I might need to start there. It's so good to hear from you!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the overview on Dickens’ lit! I’m curious to read Peter Ackroyd’s biography too. I just stumbled across your blog and I love all the book reviews.