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Monday, August 6, 2012

Classics Club August Meme: My favorite classic

Captains Courageous, Lorna Doon, Anne of Green Gables, Johnny Tremain, Ivanhoe. These are all "my" books. The ones that are linked with something I love something that I will always cherish. And there are many more.

But I am supposed to pick one aren't I?

OK! I pick the french revolution!You know, Tale of Two Cities, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Les Misrables.

I can't pick a time period? Rats.

I pick Charles Dickens! Little Dorrit, Bleak House, ect...

I can't pick an author either can I?

Fine!

Great Expectations.

My sister Amy is what you call a Janite. She pities the people who think Austen is a city, her favorite hero is George Knightly and she wants of those shirts that say "I'm waiting for my Prince Charming Mr. Darcy."

I sniff at the use of "Dickens" as an expression. The first time I cried while watching a movie was watching John Chivery propose to Amy{Dorrit}. My little sister calls me Handel.

I don't know if there is a word for a Dickens lover. So I'm making one up, I am a....

Pumblechookian

'cause that is a word Dicken's made up and he is awesome. In fact my sister says I should call him My Sweet Chuck {referencing my love of Robin Hood}. Please note the new page.

Why the Pumblechook book?  What makes them special to me?

When I was younger Amy read Oliver Twist. Well being the annoying little sister i was i got out the shortened version from the library and read it. Then Amy found it on my bookshelf and told me that it wasn't the real thing.

Oh the disillusionment.

The next time I was smarter. Amy read Great Expectations. Of course I had to tag along. I picked it up and at the age of somewhere between eight and nine {I think} read about half of it. Yawn. It was boring. It was depressing. And it made me feel like being in a great open cold place that had no colors except gray and dusky smoldering red{I think and feel in colors and sense images, unlike Amy who thinks in letters and words, an enviable talent since she can spell and I can't. Rabbit trail.}. Back then I didn't like red. Gray is the color you get when you rub hope out. Needless to say I hated Great Expectations.

So I started reading Shakespeare instead. After all I had to have something big girl and mature. BTW I'm now a big Shakespeare fan.

Then in 8th grade I discovered that I loved to learn. That school was fun! I begged Mom to let me read David Copperfield for school. I yearned for something thick to set my teeth into, to gobble and chew. A book I could slurp in great thick creamy gulps. A book colored rich brown and impressive shine-black. I adored David Copperfield.  Steerforth broke my heart, I fell in love with Ham, I beat my fists over Davie's misfortunes, wriggled with delight over Tommy Traddles, bit Mr. Murdstone with great relish and Davie's mother with mustard. I drew a picture of Agnes and shredded it. I wept over poor Dora, loved Emily, and learned how to do a perfect Uriah Heep imitation.

Then Amy and I watched Little Dorrit. I now knew that Dickens was something special. I read the book, then Bleak House. This year I took a deep breath and decided to retry Great Expectations. I expected to hate it.

And I didn't.

I loved it.

The gray was heartbreaking but I loved having my heartbroken. Miss Havisham had me in tears, Estella had me in tears, Pip had me in tears, Joe had me in tears. you get the picture. Every time I picked it up I speant the whole time with my hand pressed over my mouth trying to smother gasps of pleasure at the silver threads of imagery Dickens scattered in between the gray. Trying to smother tears when he picked up my heart a turned it in his hand along with the hearts of the characters. Trying to smother laughter when for half a minute the clouds broke and the Dicken's dry sunshine shone through in the form of wit.

The thing I loved about it was that I felt for all the characters. All of them. From Pumblechook, to Pip to Miss Havisham. The only one I would have scooted off the scene with a right good will was the avenger. That kid made me want to scream and tare things. Yet I loved the feeling. Great Expectations helped me understand the importance of purpose driven writing. Of having your characters{even your villains} twine themselves around the readers heartstrings.

It taught me that gray is good.

Remember. Gray is the color you get when hope is rubbed away. Gray is so that the hope shows up even brighter. That it tinges more welcome and more rosy. After all why did God allow sin? So that man should see his need of him. Why does a writer allow hopelessness into the book? Same reason. That the reader will see the need for hope.

Dickens is awesome. 

12 comments:

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

This is a fun post! I haven't read Great Expectations yet, and have Bleak House on my Club List. (I honestly went back and forth between the two, and Bleak House won the coin toss). BUT, I read Oliver Twist for the Club earlier this year, and did not love it, which has made me nervous. Your enthusiasm gives me hope for Dickens yet again. Thank you! - Sarah

Anne-girl said...

We read Oliver Twist as a family when I was eleven. I hated and loved it. Back then I was too little to like anything that didn't have everybody happy in the end. I had loved Nancy and so I was furious at what happened. I liked the dodger though. I remember that. I was pleased by the Dodger.

I think when reading Dickens it is best to start with one of his lighter works {Bleak House, Little Dorrit, David Copperfield} and then try something sadder like GA or Oliver Twist.

I'm sure you will adore Bleak House. It is one of his best. Funny, sprawling, tear jerking, and full of delightful characters.

I can't wait to reread it for Classics Club!

Maria Elisabeth said...

Okay, I am a Pumblechookian. Heehee. I'm going to use that word and no one will ever know what I'm talking about. Which would be a pity. At least they know I love Dickens.

My family doesn't like his books at all. They prefer books less gray. But you're so right about why you should allow hopelessness into the book. It's sort of what I've been thinking for a while but never actually put into words.

Oh, I think I've said that in a comment on one of your blogs before. Oh well, it's just so amazing that you DO come out and say what I've been thinking. Bravo, bravo, bravo!

Great Expectations was the first Dickens I read. It made me acknowledge that the author was great and encourage me to read more. I don't think I actually loved it. But the problem could have been me, not the book. I should read it again.

Those gasps of pleasure... Oh yes, in some books, especially by Dickens or Orczy, I'm nearly squealing most of the time. Then I have to shut my mouth firmly so that I don't make a lot of strange noises. It happens that I'm doing that right now, too. This post is just everything I've thought already.

Oh wait, I really HAVE said that before.

Dickens is awesome. Yesyesyes. Sink me, I couldn't agree more!

But back to the start. I'm really having too much fun commenting. :D

Charles Dickens! Tsk, tsk, what would the Janeites say? And the Leaguettes?

But I think I'd agree with you. Dickens is definately a better writer than Baroness Orczy. As to Miss Austen... I won't make any pronouncements because I'm not sure myself and I don't want all the fans running after me like a pack of wolves.

You? Handel? How did that start? I want to know!

You love Robin Hood? Teehee, so do I. Have you ever watched the 1934 movie with Errol Flynn? It's quite good.

Shakespeare at around nine? I think I want to hug you. To be quite honest, I think I started reading him at ten. But it's still the same general idea.

I really should be sleeping now, so I'll leave you with no more of my randomness to confuse you. I did make mostly sense, didn't I? Whatever. Amazing post, by the way, in case I didn't make that clear. :P

Allie said...

I love this post!

I have had a tumultuous relationship with Dickens. But I am coming around to his work, and now I consider David Copperfield to be one of my favorite books. :)

Nice to meet you through the club!

Anne-girl said...

Maria: Your comment has made day!

Yeah I love squealing over a book. Amy has several times come into a room and asked me what on earth I am yelping over and I shut my mouth realizing I was expressing delight vocally.

For qualifier here I do not love dickens more than Percy I love him more than Baroness Orczy. I believe I am not violating the Leaguettes by saying that am I?

Dickens is better than Austen. Run me run all you like rabid Janites! I shall not fear you!

Well have you ever seen this?

My little sister Molly and i love it to pieces. We both adore horrible Histories {the none gross ones} and so we started calling each other Mozart and Beethoven. That lasted for a little while then I met Herbert Pocket and since I always call*him* Handle in my head instead of Pip and since I like him muchly and muchly I do I asked Molly to call me Handel instead of Beethoven. horrible Histories and Dickens will now be forever linked.

I have never seen a Robin Hood movie. I love the howard Pyle book and I've always wanted an older brother. My version of Robin Hood, {a young prince just a year older than me who was booted off his throne} has been always my pretend brother. Oh and my version doesn't steal. So I guess he's not really Robin.

My favorite shakespeares are Henry VIII and Midsummer Night's Dream.

You made sense. To me anyway.

Anne-girl said...

I just realized I forgot to give you the link! Here it is.
http://tieyourowncravat.blogspot.com/2012/03/lets-find-you-hairbrush.html

Amy said...

Un-cle Pum-ble-chook! Hehe, I've recently re-read Great Expectations, and I can still hear Mrs. Joe saying that at the table. Nobody names their characters like Dickens. :)

Jenna said...

"Dickens is awesome." YES!

I love this post. Everything about it. I took a Dickens class a year and a half ago because I had really only read Hard Times up to that point, and now I have an entire shelf of Dickens novels and am obsessed. No shame.

Karen K. said...

Great Expectations was my first Dickens. I read it college my senior year and was SHOCKED that I loved it. I didn't read any more Dickens for years but I've now read most of his works and I still love him (though I hated Hard Times). Bleak House is my absolute favorite though I also loved Our Mutual Friend and Oliver Twist.

Dragonfly Daydreams said...

I loved your comment about loving that you are heartbroken by a book. I understand that completely - some of my all-time favourite books are the ones that make me cry and despair.
I haven't read Dickens for 20 years - it's time to revisit :-)

Melody said...

Okay, I really will have to read Great Expectations sometime just so I can know what's so different about actually reading the book than just knowing the story (aka having watched a couple adaptations). Heehee.

Jillian said...

I think it's so cool you read Charles Dickens as a family!! My Mom and I have read Dickens for the last two Christmases together. I think this year we are reading Louisa May Alcott. :)