Saturday, 22 September 2018

What the Dickens?

Victorian literature is my thing at the moment. I have read most of Elizabeth Gaskell and Anthony Trollope, who is my favourite and I am moving on to Charles Dickens. I was put off him at school with Hard Times. Who would not be, it's full of awful people like Mr Gradgrind and the vision of school is about to put you off and I wasn't happy anyway.  I had read David Copperfield as everybody does and that was about it.
I can remember when I was a little girl watching The Old Curiosity Shop with my Dad on Sunday afternoons, they did each story as a serial and I thought poor little Nell.
From the twenty first century I have to say that Dickens was lousy at writing about women, except comic women. Let's face it he was lousy with women. His wife had I don't know  how many unnecessary children, and don't tell me he didn't know what was doing it or it was religion, he was much too smart for that and then he had whatever her name was on the side. Selfish bastard.
I also feel for him that his own children were generally useless but he wanted his end away. Also he got a lot of nasty colds. Being a lots of nasty colds person myself I do sympathise but Little Nell??  Excuse me, these days she'd be Big Nell and kick ass all over the place.  Miss Havisham?  Yes, destroying one to the most loved images of Miss Havisham, who having sat amidst her wedding feast for twenty years, then dies in a fire. Oh, come on. She didn't change her clothes, she didn't eat, she didn't do anything?  Tosh.  My great grandmothers would have got up off their respective arses and kicked those guys into the middle of next week.
Trollope also is a man writing about women and making them obey their 'masters' i.e.their fathers or their husbands. Very funny. Because you marry a guy you do what he tells you?  Unless you have had a very bad childhood with weird ideas I don't think in this country women have ever done such a thing. But hey, it would have spoiled a good many stories and at that time I suppose readers were quite happy with it so I have to take it for what it is.
I am about to embark on Bleak House which pleases me much more. Esther is a very strong woman, the story is a mystery and the construction of the book is just dandy. It might even see me through the autumn. Oh and I have read A Christmas Carol, it's one of my favourites. Scrooge is fabulous and also I think a book about a railwayman. I can't remember the title so in fact the more I think about Dickens the more I have actually read and some of his comic characters are the best in English Literature.

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