I am reading all the Dickens (in order) this year and this is one of my favorites!
I have trouble believing that anyone has ever finished this ponderous pendulous pile of detritus. The title is practically a perfect review. It is a bleak novel that spends thousands of pages trying to convince us the lawyers are evil monstrous people. Wow, challenging- I can't imagine that was a surprise even in Dickens' day. Dickens wrote in the newspaper in serialized format- he was paid by the word and it shows. This doesn't belong in the canon, it should be fired from a cannon- preferably into a volcano.
This book all comes together in a truly wonderful fashion at the end. It has all the wonders of good Dickens including humor and empathy for the poor. But it is the most anti-attorney book I've ever read. So lawyers beware! :)
Bleak House has long been considered one of Dickens' best works. Deservedly so. The intricate plot and vibrant characters make this a great work. Although the number of pages may seem daunting, it is well worth it.
As with all Dicken's work that I've read, this book has survived for a reason. Filled with drama and intrigue, painted over the backdrop of an emerging industrial world being forced upon the resentful aristocracy. The only criticism I had was that it was a tad predictable. Never-the-less I fell in love with Esther Summerson and I'm sure you will too.
I have always loved Dickens but have never read bleak house and so am looking forward to this book. With many of the classics, you must make an investment of time and then wait and see. His work is not a not "plug and play."
I agree with the assessment that he is a pretty smart guy but the thing that stands out to me is the way he uses language. To my mind, some writers get the music of prose and some don't. To my mind, Dickens definitely has mad skills.
bleak, to say the least.
Stay with it. It pays off big at the end.
Dickens sets up the characters and scene for five hundred pages or so, and then writes a two-hundred page fast-paced thriller, in which you are far more involved with the characters than in any conventional thriller. The scene - Chancery and its environs - is itself a character, a spirit of discord pervading all the other character's lives and the whole city of London.
Personally, I am a Dickens fan so anything he writes I generally like. However, Bleak House is my favorite of his novels and aside from the slower-than-modern pace that is characteristic of most of his novels I love all of the characters. Approach Bleak House as if it is a mystery novel and the manner in which Dickens weaves the numerous sub-plots together begins to look like a work of art. Great novel for any lover of classical literature
Dickens can be a challenge for modern readers. We are used to pithier fare. That said, if you compare Dickens to his contemporaries, you may discover that his style is remarkably modern, with a cutting, ironic wit many years ahead of his time.
Might I suggest tackling him with an audio-book version? Sometimes hearing a challenging book (particularly if it's well-read by the performer) is an entryway. I listen to audio-books while doing housework, or I download the CDs one at a time on to my iPod for listening on the bus. I don't drive, but I think most audio-book listeners enjoy hearing these while on the road.
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