Thursday, December 27, 2012

End of a Challenge

At the beginning of the year, Abby at Newly Impassioned Soul gave us all the Charles Dickens Reading challenge for his 200th birthday. Which I have fulfilled, even if I did take the smallest option (three books) and the last one was A Christmas Carol because I wouldn't have had time for another novel. (And because it was Christmastime.)

Anyways, it's all done. And now I shall talk a little about the three books I read.

A Tale of Two Cities
I read this one for school back in March. It was nice to be able to read a Dickens story I wasn't exactly acquainted with. I knew the very basic storyline, but nothing else. It didn't really impress me as much as I have seen it do to some people, but I did enjoy it, and whenever and if ever I read it again, I might enjoy it even more. I think that my test of whether I liked something or not is how I would react if I heard somebody say something against it. I have defended it somewhat before, so I guess that must mean I liked it. The story was quite interesting, even though the French Revolution is... well... not something I really choose to read about much, be it fact or fiction. Hey, I'm a Jane Austen fan... stories about a quiet country life (or even a not-as-quiet city life) appeal to me more than adventuresome tales about a war or revolution. Now I'm approaching areas that may cause Leaguettes to glare at me, so I'll shut up before I get into deeper waters. ;-)

Oh, but I feel compelled to say something that may shock many of you: I actually liked Charles Darnay better than Sydney Carton. "Now despise me, if you dare." I wasn't too thrilled with him, mind, but, sorry folks, a respectable gentleman with a good heart and intentions is more admirable to me than an alcoholic any day, no matter how many brains he may have. I did admire his cleverness... but you see, what I'd like about him is what he could have been, and not what he was. He didn't even have the courage to try to change, even though he knew he should. I just realized that in the sentence before last I was almost quoting Maria Elisabeth. Well, since I almost quoted her, I might as well quote her all the way, because she made a very good point that I agree with in an email a while back, about how she thinks Charles Darnay is quite a hero in his own right--"It takes quite a bit to disown your inheritance, your hopes of being a marquis, and go to earn your living in another country where they promptly pop you off to jail and nearly hang you. And then to jump back into France when he knew all his friends and relations were getting their heads chopped off, merely because he got a letter from someone he didn't know and felt it was his duty to go. And he would have insisted on taking his sentence himself too, if Sydney Carton hadn't oh-so-conveniently drugged him unconscious." 
Of course, I don't really admire him for going back into France--I think it was pretty stupid and it was mean of him not to even tell his wife and daughter goodbye--but it was a nice thought. :P

Anyways. Went off on a bit of a rabbit trail there. Now I guess I'll sit back and watch everybody hate me...

Oliver Twist
I liked this about as well as I thought I would. I chose to read it because it’s a Dickens story I knew hardly anything about, and it was one of the shorter ones. (I might want to try a long one like Little Dorrit someday, but that’s not really something I wanted to commit to read, and I put this on my Classics Club list.) I did enjoy it on the whole, and I think it got better (as in more interesting) as it went along, so I’m definitely glad I read the whole thing. The only problem I have is that since this seems to be one of the most well-known of Dickens’s works, some people read it and then judge all of Charles Dickens from it. Of course, when I come across somebody who, after I ask them if they’ve read/watched any Charles Dickens, say “I read Oliver Twist but I didn’t really like it that much,” I immediately inform them that they need to go watch Little Dorrit or Bleak House before they decide. :-)
I actually think I might reread it someday, and then I might like it better because the first time around, not knowing the story, it’s a little harder to appreciate everything that should be appreciated. It did have a lot of Dickensian threading and entwining of stories going on, but one doesn’t find out most of it till near the end, so it can be a little bit overwhelming the first time around.
Not as much as some of his other stories, though.

A Christmas Carol
The first time I read this was last year. Horrid and shocking, I know. I've always been very acquainted with the story, though, as one of our family's tradition on Christmas Eve is to watch an adaptation of it. (Our favorite is the 1984 one with George C. Scott. I'm always throwing that out there, because the poor thing seems to be so little known even though it is the best!) I enjoyed it very much indeed. And when I read the ending, it was snowing beautifully outside. Quite lovely. (It melted the next morning though...) I was looking forward to Christmas Eve even more because I do so like watching the adaptation of a book while the latter is still fresh on my mind. :)

Did any of you take the challenge? Do you think you'll be able to finish?

3 comments:

Marian said...

I don't blame you for liking Charles better! It's been years since I read the book - and Sydney was more immediately likeable at the time - but I do think Charles is underrated.

Alexandra said...

I didn't do the challenge, but I've read them all multiple times and my TBR pile is huuuuge...so yeah.

I can see how you like Charles...but ultimately I've gotta go with Sydney every time.

And as long as you don't dispawage the Revolution and Dickens too much, I won't dispawage JA. ;-) Speaking of that, I am finally getting through P&P. I feel quite accomplished, no pun intended.

Melody said...

Marian,
Haha, well it's nice to know somebody isn't glaring at me. :)

Alexandra,
Well then, I don't blame you. For not taking the challenge, I mean. What are your favorite Dickens stories, then, if you know them all so well? :)
Well, it's not so much that I like Charles per se... it's just that I like him better than Sydney. Don't kill me. :P
Oh, I would never try to disparage Charles Dickens. Not everybody can be Jane Austen. In fact, not everybody should be Jane Austen. Only Jane Austen should be Jane Austen. So I'm happy to have Charles Dickens and his originality too. :) He definitely was a brilliant author. As for the Revolution... haha, well, in stories it may be interesting but it's definitely not my favorite historical event. :P
Haha, congrats for getting around to P&P. ;) Although I do think that Persuasion would be more your style. I can't say you would like it, because you tend not to like JA, but I think you would probably prefer it to P&P. ;) It's the darkest and the most romantic combined. Hahahaha. (At least, Amy thinks it is the darkest and I'm not inclined to disagree. :P)

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