"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." --Isaac Asimov

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Comfort reading

I'm easing my way back into a more normal state of chaos, with blogging being one of the items on my to-do list.

Along the way, I read Nicholas Nickleby, and throughly enjoyed it. Dickens is one of my all-time favorite writers--if I ever needed to curl up under the covers with a warm beverage while a blizzard rages outside, a Dickens novel would be my first choice.

As with my other favorite British authors, like Wodehouse and Heyer, what I enjoy most about Dickens is his skill with language, in painting remarkably realistic pictures with words and making his characters come alive--even the nonhuman ones, like the horse in The Old Curiosity Shop. Luxuriating in the richness of the English language is an art that's often lost in contemporary genre fiction, which places a premium on brevity and action.

Dickens has been criticized for many things--wordiness, relying heavily on coincidence as a plot device, and his treatment of female characters. However, I tend to believe that a novel must be read in the context and time in which it was written--these so-called weaknesses can be found in any number of other Victorian novels, and were certainly not held to be such, in that era.

Great novels stand the test of time, and this one will forever have a place on my (e-)bookshelf.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Terri said...

Aside the "treatment of women" I can appreciate novels for the context in which they were written...but I really do struggle with the woman thing. I tend to empathize with the characters in a book as I read, but that doesn't happen when I am critiquing the character and author.

kdoyle said...

I agree that it can be a challenge, when reading novels from another era, not to judge them by contemporary standards and societal values. Dickens certainly addressed many social injustices of his time. While several male and female characters can be stereotypes (even caricatures) in Nicholas Nickleby, he does write strong female characters in others, like A Tale of Two Cities.

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