Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading Dickens

Three points grew out of the lecture/discussion of A Tale of Two Cities today:

1. Dickens wrote his books serially; meaning, he wrote them in installments in newspapers. People were not sitting at home reading the whole book when it first began appearing; rather, the family would listen to the weekly or bi-weekly installment with all the intense interest of modern folks watching a television show.

2. Dickens generally closes his chapters with a hook. In the first several chapters, we noted how he mysteriously gives a small bit of information, a clue, a phrase, or something that his characters mull around, but that the reader cannot quite figure out.

3. Don't neglect the lyrical or poetic qualities of Dickens' writings. Yes, he can wear the reader out with character description and details, but he did have an eye for detail.

Paul Johnson said that Dickens wrote in a room full of mirrors. He would look at himself in a mirror and make faces to fit what he wanted a character to look like.

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