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22 September 2008


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Monica Edinger

I just love that you are doing this. I was a big Dickens fan when young, but somehow missed The Tale of Two Cities. So a few years ago I started listening to various Dickens novels while walking and running. I had to stop at the "It is a far, far better thing I do..." bit as I was so moved. I should say I've listened to a number of his novels over the last few years and found it wonderful. I don't think all books lend themselves well to listening, but Dickens sure does. (I also highly recommend Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White and The Moonstone.)


It's because Dickens is straight-up lousy at heroes. The only one I've ever liked is Mr Pickwick (and let's face it, calling him a hero is a total stretch.) I just read a grown-up Joan Aiken book (A Cluster of Sudden Sparks, which was totally ridick and totally fabulous, and the heroine of that book LOVES Bleak House and she especially loves how totally and completely awful the "heroine" Esther Summerson is). I have theories about Dickens' women but have too much grading now to get into it.

Short version: there are ways of reading Dickens' heroes as subversive and interesting but I don't buy it for a second.


Okay, so I felt totally guilty too for saying Charles -- and Lucie -- were stupid beyond stupid. Dickens DOES speak directly to the reader in that section. "Look. They were clueless. They were in England. Give them a break. k,thx." I still have a hard time buying it.

I think you have the Charles/Lucie=symbols thing right on. I've wondered repeatedly why I couldn't care less if they fell down a hole. He really does suck at writing heroes. Anti-heroes, though -- go, Miss Pross!

THANK YOU for also thinking of Gabelle. I mean, hello? In the ensuing year and a half, has anyone even THOUGHT of him!?


I don't think Dickens was really very interested in heroes/heroines of the young and noble sort. They were stock characters who were there for all the really cool characters to bounce off. There are actors like this, too, who are simply amazing character actors but can't play a straight role to save their lives.

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