Category Archives: Dickens, Charles

Reading Around: Spinoza, Dickens, and … Ruxton?

Apparently Spinoza’s philosophical “stock” is rising: Another scientist who was passionately Spinozist (going so far as to write him a gushing poem) was Albert Einstein. In Spinoza’s conception of nature, he recognised intuitions matching his own, concerning the elusive unified field theory. Einstein also relied on Spinoza to get him out of trouble when queried […]

Read Better!

I admit, I have some sympathy with Hillary Kelly’s lament about the whole Oprah Does Dickens thing. I don’t share, or like, Kelly’s condescending assumption that Oprah’s readers are incapable of appreciating the novels, that they will have to “scramble about to decipher Dickens’s obscure dialectical styling and his long-lost euphemisms” or that “with no […]

Reading David Copperfield

‘Amateur Reader’ is doing a lovely series of posts on his reading of David Copperfield over at Wuthering Expectations. Up so far: I had seen it somewhere. But I could not remember where. – In David Copperfield, Dickens tames his prose. Dickens had reached a dead end, and he knew it.  Many of his most […]

Kind Words: Thackeray Reviews A Christmas Carol

Here’s a bit of Thackeray’s review of A Christmas Carol from Fraser’s Magazine (1844): Who can listen to objections regarding such a book as this? It seems to me a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a personal kindness. The last two people I heard speak of it were women; […]

Bad Writers, Good Books

The invaluable Arts and Letters Daily alerted me to an essay by Sam Schulman at In Character (“A Journal of Everyday Virtues”–really?) on the topic “Good Writers. Bad Men. Does It Matter?” Schulman’s interest is in the relationship between our knowledge of a writer’s life and character, as revealed, for instance, through literary biography, and […]

This Week in My Classes (October 5, 2009): It’s Sensational!

In 19th-Century British Fiction, we’re wrapping up our discussions of Great Expectations this week. I’ve written before about teaching this novel. Here’s a bit from that post, in which I focus on Pip’s moving speech to Estella after he learns Magwitch is his true benefactor and Estella, though she “cannot choose but remain part of […]

Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip

I think there is a contradiction in my response to this book, one I’m not sure yet how to resolve. Why do I feel–how can I justifiably feel–that the novel conveyed very powerfully to me an experience wholly unlike my own, that is, the experience of suspense, deprivation, and, ultimately, horror, of the young narrator, […]

Chime in on "The Chimes"

(x-posted) To be honest, “The Chimes” has left me a bit at a loss, and so I’m looking forward to hearing reactions from others. My biggest confusion was over Trotty himself: what did he do to deserve these terrible visions of deprivation and depravity, and what is he supposed to do about them? His sin […]

Ring in the Holidays with "The Chimes"

(cross-posted) It’s that time of year again–you know, the time for “paying bills without money,” for “finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer,” and, of course, for re-reading A Christmas Carol. But wait: we all know (or think we know) A Christmas Carol. What about Dickens’s other Christmas stories? I’ve actually never […]

This Week in My Classes (November 14, 2008)

(cross-posted, slightly expanded, at The Valve) This is a great week for me because in both of my classes I am teaching books I am really passionate about. In Introduction to Prose and Fiction, we have started Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, and in 19th-Century Fiction, we are just finishing up Bleak House. It’s […]

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