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Copperfield". His interpretation of Dickens's colorful
cast of characters is spot-on.
My only complaint is with the format of the CDs themselves.
Most MP3 players have a feature for moving from folder to
folder and for browsing among MP3 files in a given folder.
This allows one to quickly find one's bookmark, so to
speak. But on each of the "David Copperfield" CD's, all the
MP3 files are collected in one folder, thereby forcing the
listener to manually page through a large number of files on
those occasions (such as power disconnection) where the MP3
player loses its memory of its last stopping point.
Given the quality of the reading, however, the CD formatting
is a minor nit.
The great storm scene alone will thunder forever in your memories. You will encounter with Copperfield:
the evil, chilling Uriah Heep,
the mental and physical destruction of his mother by a Puritanical,untilitarian step-father,
the always in-debt Mr. Mawcawber who somehow transcends his economic and egocentric needs into something noble,
the betrayal of Copperfield by his best friend and Copperfield's shattered emotions by this betrayal,
the ruination of another close friend's reputation, and her step-by-step climb back out of the mire,
Copperfield's own passionate step into marriage while too young with an irresponsible, yet innocent child-woman, her death,
Copperfield's own rise from poverty and orphanhood into worldly success but empty life until mature love rescues him.
Dickens has a real gift for creating people that irritate you, yet gradually you come to love them - just like folks in real life. If you never have read Dickens, come meet David Copperfield. You'll find that your impressions of David from the brief snippets by critics, teachers, reviewers, professors and know-it-alls completely different than the Real Thing.
The characters are all people you find during your own lifetime: your friends, your aunt, your sweetheart, that woman you love but you can't stand, etc. Copperfield is the story of a good man in his learning through difficulties and setbacks.
No wonder it is still read and probably will stay alive through the decades: Copperfield has something to tell us all.
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All the adventures Don Quixote goes on are in the name of his love Dulcinia, and although she never makes an appearance in the book she seems to embody chivalric ideals. Unfortunately for our protagonists, Don Quixote often has confusion with the real and imaginary, mistaking inns for castles, grazing sheep for conflicting armies, windmills for enemy enchanters and traveling monks for wizards transporting a princess against her will. All mistakes are blamed on a powerful necromancer, who is Don Quixote's mortal enemy (since all knights have them.) Although Quixote is mocked by many, in the end they mimic his restlessness and discomfort for what is considered "normal" in society.
Overall, I'm glad I read Don Quixote even though it was longer then I bargained for. The book helped me get a better picture of what life was like in Spain during the Renaissance period. I learned simple things like there actually were windmills in other parts of Europe besides the Netherlands and more complex things like exactly what chivalry and its ideals consist of.
Definitely, this is not one of Dickens's best novels, but nevertheless it is fun to read. The characters are good to sanctity or bad to abjection. The managing of the plot is masterful and the dramatic effects wonderful. It includes, as usual with Dickens, an acute criticism of social vices of his time (and ours): greed, corruption, the bad state of education. In spite of everything, this is a novel very much worth reading, since it leaves the reader a good aftertaste: to humanism, to goodness.
The social axe that Dickens had to grind in this story is man's injustice to children. Modern readers my feel that his depiction of Dotheboys Academy is too melodramatic. Alas, unfortunately, it was all too real. Charles Dickens helped create a world where we can't believe that such things happen. Dickens even tell us in an introduction that several Yorkshire schoolmasters were sure that Wackford Squeers was based on them and threatened legal action.
The plot of Nicholas Nickleby is a miracle of invention. It is nothing more than a series of adventures, in which Nicholas tries to make his way in the world, separate himself from his evil uncle, and try to provide for his mother and sister.
There are no unintersting characters in Dickens. Each one is almost a charicature. This book contains some of his funniest characters.
To say this is a melodrama is not an insult. This is melodrama at its best. Its a long book, but a fast read.
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the prose is gorgeous, as usual, but the story drags. worth a read, but not if you're new to dickens. best to start off with nicholas nickleby which doesn't suffer from the same defect.
But it is mainly a story of love, revenge and self-sacrifice rather than a commentary on the revolution. Dr. Mannette is released after being unjustly imprisoned for 18 years, and he finds he has a perfect angelic little daughter, Lucie. Charles Darnay is a young, dashing, but good French aristocrat who reliquished his title in France, and is exiled in England. Sydney Carton, the "idlest and most unpromising of men," has become one of my favorites in literature. He's an unhappy alchoholic, who appears incapable of achieving anything good. I liked him from the first, because he didn't like Darnay much and, neither did I! Carton is in love with Lucie, unrequitedly. Lucie marries Darnay. Darnay's antipathy towards Carton becomes of major significance at the end. As the French Revolution erupts in France, duty calls Darnay back to Paris, where he is captured and tried. The ending is the grandest I have ever read; poignant, tearful, prophetic, bittersweet. It takes days to recover! It ends in perhaps the most unselfish, heroic of sacrifices in fiction. With Dickens' beautiful use of prose this becomes truly unforgettable. I recommend it for everyone, young and old, as long as you can handle the language. I can't believe I waited this long to read it!
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The plot is simple. A boy escapes his orphan home to live in London with a group of thieves and pickpockets. He's saved from this depraved life by a kindly, lonely old gentleman. But the villains, Bill Sykes and especially Fagin, fear that the boy may rat them out and so they kidnap him back. Can Oliver make it back to the life he deserves?
Oliver's story is not a very originally one, but it is enlivened by some of the greatest characters I've ever seen written. My personal favourites and there are many, are Noah Claypole who becomes a principle player and a very funny one at that, near the book's conclusion; and Mr. Brownlow, who's catchphrase "I'll eat my own head" had me bursting into laughter.
The book is diminished by its excessive sentimentality at the conclusion. Its female characters, apart from the courageous Nancy, are written in a golden light so as to become fantasies rather than the gloriously dirty reality of their male counterparts. A sub-plot between Mary and her boyfriend is ridiculously excessive.
Against these weaknesses, the book is a triumph of character. Often memorably played on screen, the two villains have become more famous than the title character, who is slightly simpering. Fagin is deliciously smarmy and Sykes is evil incarnate. They get their comuppance in justifiably brutal fashion. Dickens like most of us was a sucker for a happy ending.
Inside are some of the major characters in the realm of fiction; Fagin and his gang of child thieves, including the Artful Dodger. Nancy, the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold. Master Charles Bates (was this a pun even then?) Bad Bill Sikes, who shows the darker edge to all of this dangerous fun, and the innocent, pure Oliver Twist, who is the very definition of nature over nurture.
A great book, and one that I am glad to have finally read.
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. That makes this novel very different. It is probably one of the top ten English novels of the 19th century. Some of the passages are beautiful. I cannot forget Pip's response to Estella when she says "You will get me out of thoughts in a week."
Though a novel founded on philosophic concepts, the story is full of action to keep the plot moving. An escaped convict, an attempted murder, and a mysterious benefactor all add to the sense of mystery that exists throughout most of the novel and forces the reader to continue. Murder, deceit, jealously, and revenge also help to hold the attention of the reader while Dickens explores the depths of human nature.
As you read Great Expectations, raise your expectations (sorry, I couldn't help myself) to assume that you will receive answers to any dangling thread. Every detail is important, if not to solve the mysteries of the characters then only to enhance the "sense of place." Although the England described here is long gone, it becomes as immediate as a nightmare or a dream that you have just awakened from.
This story by Dickens is a must-read and deserves five-stars.
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This then was the backdrop of Hard Times. Dickens is making a social and political statement. This is a statement against the mechanizing of society. It starts with Dickens repeated use of the word fact. It is facts that have meaning. Human conventions like feeling, compassion or passion have no meaning or looked down upon as an inconvienent waste of time. If a situation cannot be put down on paper as in an accounting ledger it should not be considered.
This is where the conflict of the book comes in. Which helps humanity more compassion or fact. Is Bounderby a better person than Blackpool? Bounderby, who by his own admission was a self-made man. Untrue as this was he said it enough to make it his own reality. Or Blackpool, a weaver with an alcoholic wife, who was in love with another woman. Facts made Bounderby rich, compassion made Blackpool human.
Louisa presents another conflict. Louisa was educated only by fact. No wonder or inquisitiveness was ever allowed. She was the perfect robot. Doing what she was told when she was told. Just another piece of the machine, however, the piece broke, emotions came out, and they broke down the wall of fact that Mr. Gradgrind had so carefully constructed. Because the feelings have finally been acknowledged things really break down. She finds that not only has she married the wrong man but also the man she did marry is a buffoon whom she cannot respect nor live with.
The reader is left wondering if there is no one who will not be ruined by all the worship to fact. The whelp has certainly been ruined to the point he feels no responsibility to anyone but himself. If a situation can not be used to his advantage then he has no use for it, as a matter of course, he will run when he believes he will have to take responsibility for his own actions.
The gypsies have not been ruined by fact. But only because they live outside of society, they do not conform to the rules of society. These are the people who value character over social status. The gypsies do not value Bounderby and Bitzer with all their pomp and egomania. Rather they value Stephen Blackpool and Cecilia whom can show compassion and kindness no matter a person's station in life.
Hard Times can be used to look at today's society. Are we, as a society more worried about our computers, cell phones, faxes, and other gadgets than our neighbor's well being? Do we only get involved to help others when there is a personal benefit? Or, are we like the gypsies who can look into the character of the person and not worry about the socio-economic status? While Dickens' wrote Hard Times about 19th century England the moral can easily fit into 21st century America
Hard Times has yet a misleading title. It gives one ideas of harshness, depression, poverty, and social decline--although the actual reality of then-London, still not something you would choose to read. However, Hard Times has as much depression and poverty as any of Dickens' other works. It is just in this case that Dickens chooses to remind the world that in the deepest despair there is beauty yet to be seen.
Dickens was a strange author. In his supposedly inspiring books, you get an overdose of sadness, and in his depressing books, you find beauty. It is this case with Hard Times.
It is a poor, honest man's search for justice in a world where only the rich have merit. It is a girl's search for true love while battling the arranged marriage for money. And lastly, a woman's search for recognition against her favored, yet dishonest brother. It is these searches that at last come together and become fufilled. And, while at the same time telling a captivating story, it comments on the then--and still now--presence of greed and total dishonesty one has to go through for money.
The title of this review sums up Hard Times. Its beauty comes from the pure searches for truth, the sorrow comes from the evil the characters most overcome to get there, and the honesty is both the truth with which Dickens portrays life and the the overwhelming truth that these protaganists create.
Holly Burke, PhD.
Clinical Psychologist, Abnormal Psych. Professor
Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins Inst.
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