Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bleak House Week 2, or I am Very Far Behind

As you may know, I have decided to cut myself some slack when it comes to Bleak House, and I no longer feel like a delinquent because JoAnn has assured me that she too will be taking her time with Bleak House. So, without further ado, my thoughts on chapters 8-13:

I should probably warn you that some of this is fuzzy in my mind because I read chapter 8 before I moved. I then proceeded to not read Bleak House for another month, which is distressingly familiar territory for me as I have attempted and failed to read Bleak House twice before. Anyways...

We get more story with the Deadlocks, Mr. Jarndyce, and Mr. Guppy, and we are introduced to the rather odd but altogether delightful Mr. Boythorn. I found the Badgers hilarious, and Mr. Snagsby is quite the character as well. We also find out about Nemo, the mysterious law writer.

I have been discovering that it really is a TERRIBLE idea to see the movie adaptation of a Dickens novel before reading the novel (I blame my lack of motivation on this fact), but in some ways it has been fun to see how characters who become hugely important later are introduced. Case in point: the "dark young man", the surgeon present when the doctor, examines Nemo's body was a very pleasant surprise, and I am looking forward to seeing more of him.

On the downside, however, we have Richard. I like how Dickens connects everything together, but in this case, I am already so sad about Richard (and was before I even started reading the novel) that seeing Dickens put the pieces together for his inevitable end is sort of like helplessly watching a train with no breaks hurtling towards a bridge (aka: it's no fun!). I found these quotes about Richard particularly insightful and affecting:
"With a bouyancy and hopefulness and a gaiety that hardly ever flagged, Richard had a carelessness in his character that quite perplexed me -- principally because he mistook it, in such a very odd way, for prudence." (138)

"I believe Richard's was as frank and generous a nature as there possibly can be. He was ardent and brave, and, in the midst of all his wild restlessness, was so gentle, that I knew him like a brother in a few weeks." (139)

Like I've said before, I know what happens to Richard, and I nearly cried when he proclaimed that he would never make Ada unhappy. Oh Richard, if you only knew!

I will keep plugging away at Bleak House, and I know that it will really grab me eventually. I will admit, however, that reading Bleak House is REALLY making me want to revisit Little Dorrit. Perhaps that will be my treat for finishing the big BH.


JoAnn said...

I'm so glad you're going to keep going with Bleak House! Dickens sure does take his time introducing all the characters and setting up the story. I reached chapter 30 today, and feel like it may finally start coming together. Maybe I should add Little Dorrit to reading list??

Anonymous said...

I too had watched the BBC adaptation of Bleak House before reading the book, but actually I read the book mainly because I had loved the miniseries. Though I knew what would happen, I liked the additional details and seeing where book and film took things differently. Seeing how Richard rationalizes his misspending of money in the book for example added to the portrait I had of him from the miniseries.

I enjoyed the book immensely despite knowing the story already - I hope that as you get more into the book, that foreknowledge won't bug you as much!

- Christy

Read the Book said...

Thanks, JoAnn! Long live the delinquent Dickens readers! And you should DEFINITELY put Little Dorrit on your list!

Christy, thanks for stopping by my blog! I really enjoyed the miniseries when I saw it, and I really wanted to read the book, but it is just so SAD knowing what happens to Richard and having to see him decay bit by bit. I know why he's there (he's the only character that we get to see be completely corrupted by the case in Chancery), but I just get so depressed when I think about it. It is, however, allowing me to appreciate even more how tightly Dickens is building his story, which is one of the things that I love about him: his stories are always so interconnected. Thanks for the encouragement!