David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am reading this again for my Ravelry "Knitting like the Dickens" group and these are my comments for this reading.
December 30, 2013:
I'm finished! (again) This book has been with me for months and months. What will I do without it??? It did drag a bit in the middle, but then it picked up and I wanted it to go on and on. For one thing, I would have had a chapter on Mrs. Micawber's family and how the felt about Mr. Micawber after he was such a success. I bet they would have been on the first boat to Australia swearing they always knew he was going to be successful!
I've read this so many times, but I always see things I missed. When he was traveling and finally realized that he had taught Agnes not to love him and now he realized that he loved her he wrote so beautifully about the regret of missed opportunities and the sorrow of seeing things clearly when there was no way to rectify an earlier action, I realized that he had felt that in his life. I know that sounds obvious, but I don't think I have ever thought about someone of Dickens genius feeling the same kind of feelings we all feel. I see him as so wise and insightful that it's hard to see him as oblivious to his feelings about "Agnes."
That got me to thinking about the tortured lives of many of the greatest artists, writers, dancers, songwriters etc. I've heard the saying that genius is closest to madness, and I am just realizing a bit more about how it happens. First the writer has to have disturbing things happen...for Dickens, his father's imprisonment for one example. He has to allow himself to really feel that pain instead of sublimating it in some way. Then he has to open himself to the pain again in order to write about it convincingly and convey it to his audience, then, he writes of its consequences. Dickens created a new better outcome, but other writers, Sylvia Plath in *The Bell Jar* not so good. All this leads me to a conclusion. If you wish to become a great writer you are going to be very thin skinned and you are inviting tragedy into your life ;>)
For Dickens, another deep pain was the unfairness of Victorian society and the treatment of the poor and infirm. I've have often thought that the nightly news brings us more of the pain and human misery than we can absorb and that can make us callous. Dickens saw that misery all around him and he never allowed himself to become calloused. It is what Jacob Marley told Scrooge. He was cursed to spend eternity seeing the poor and miserable and not being able to do something to help them.
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