Friday, March 2, 2012

Great Expectations

In honor of Charles Dickens 200th birthday I chose Great Expectations to read.  I am embarrased to say that I had not read it yet!  Hopefully I will read them all one day.  I cannot help but feel that Charles Dickens is one person that I wish to get to know well, and the best way to do that is to read all of his works.  I haven't read many so far.  I read David Copperfield in my early teens, and later there was A Chrstmas Carol and Little Dorrit.  An interesting sampling so far which already gives me a good impression of the character of its author.
I admit at this stage in my life my knowledge of this century is still very skimpy, and much of my original reading was done when I was younger so the memories are hazy.  Once, when I was watching the movie Fahrenheit 541 and Montag was reading from David Copperfield, I felt like I wanted to cry too (one of the women he was reading to was) because the passage he was reading aloud  was beautiful (though I think the woman who was crying was doing it for another reason entirely).  Dickens shows me a world I cannot possibly know, but I feel as if I could because he paints very clear pictures with his words.
I am glad that I have made a point of not seeing any of the movies that have been made from this book.  I didn't know what the story was about which was great.  I loved it.  The characters were all so different from each other and some were very strange.  I loved the name Mr. Pumblechook (I think that alone helped me not to hate him!), crazy Miss Havisham, and dependable Joe.   I even joined a discussion group about this book, and earnestly defended Pip to another person who thought that he was a very selfish and awful character.    He really wasn't.  It was a valueable discussion, because I developed a better undertsanding of Pip (because my own initial impression was that he did end up being a selfish so and so). This is something I love about Dickens' books.  You are there with your characters at the beginning, so you can understand them and why they behave the way they do, and you get to share, not only in the adventure of their lives but also the characters they meet along the way.  While there is always adversity, it is sweetened with healthy helpings of good people from all walks of life to soothe the protagonist's way.
So you can see why I wish that I could meet and shake the hand of such a man, to get to know him.  He was brilliant, and an amazing scholar of human nature.  His characters are believable, they are true.

In case you would like to see this as a movie, I recommend watching the PBS 2011 television series as a good place to start.

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