Thursday, October 14, 2010

walking, archeology, Dickens

Posted by Picasa Walking on the sand. One of the regular walkers by the sea, whom while on holiday I watched with fascination. There is something of the military about this one.

In the bed from which I have lifted all the potatoes, I am doing my Autumn digging.  Before the potatoes, the bed was, for some time, used for bonfires and the disposal of rubbish. The result is that there are still  rusting bits and pieces beneath the soil which make me feel like an archaeologist.  Today, I dig up an old screwdriver and the scoop of a trowel that has lost its handle; and here a piece of metal guttering corroded and broken. Items, which have been lying under the soil lost or forgotten, however mundane or recently buried, have the romantic quality of the lost coming to light.

 I find it hard to admit and hard to believe but I think that I am beginning to overcome a lifelong dislike of the novels of Charles Dickens. I  read the best known as a child and as a grown up almost as a penance. But now, perhaps softened by a fascination with Balzac (it seems almost unpatriotic to prefer him to Dickens), I have begun Barnaby Rudge, a book which I have avoided up till now. And lo, I am tolerating with a warm smile the overflowing, over adjectived and profligate style, and even enjoying its colour and humour. This conversion must to some extent be attributed to the  Kindle eReader which makes the work much more approachable thanks to an adjustable type size in contrast to the small cramped face used for many  editions of Dickens as well as other Victorian novelists.


Roderick Robinson said...

I am delighted that your Kindle may possibly rehabilitate Dickens. I read Barnaby Rudge comparatively recently but have forgotten it entirely; my sharper memories are reserved for Dombey and Son ("The worst novel ever written", E. Waugh) which triggered a hiatus of several years. The style I can accept, also the imaginative settings and the somewhat over-exaggerated characters. What was particularly hard to bear was the self-evident traces of its earlier life as a magazine serial; these have a repetitively deadening effect on the novel.

Unknown said...

We are agreed about Dombey & Son. I am glad to see that E Waugh is of the same opnion. Now I come to think of it,I think that you and I have discussed this execrable work before. Serialisation explains the longuers of many 19th Century novels, which come in some instances pretty close to what we now call soap operas. I think that I am lulled by the soap opera qualities of Barnaby Rudge.