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The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

 
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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2934


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:11 am    Post subject: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens  Reply with quote

I was going to put this under the Dickens thread but it is all about Great Expectations and Bleak House and literacy and education and I donít think there was much mention of this book at all.  So Iíve decided to give it a thread of its own.  

The Old Curiosity Shop is the one with Little Nell; I hadnít realised that Nell permeates the whole book Ė it is only her death scene that I know about.  I have only read 100 pages out of 522, and so far I am less than impressed with it.  I think it is mostly because the characters donít appeal.  They should be funny and they probably are on screen, but on the written page I just find most of them the personification of greed, which is no doubt intentional, but they are still very unattractive, and without the warmth permeating other Dickensí books.  So far.  I gather Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness add to the goodwill and humour.  I am not sure I have met the Marchioness yet Ė is she Sophy?

The best part of it so far is the introduction by GK Chesterton, which is on a par with Himadriís!  He says it is in Dickensí humorous characters that the themes of the books can be found, and Dickens is sincere when he is humorous, but striving to get his audience to cry and find sentiment artificially with his serious ones.  I think.  He said it wasnít Little Nellís death he objected to but how her life was portrayed.  

He also writes of the criticís role: it is to point out things the author doesnít say outright, not things he does point out.  If you want to read the intro in full (itís not too long) it is here:  http://www.online-literature.com/dickens/curiosity/0/

So, in summary:  you couldnít mistake this for anyone but Dickens, itís full of stock characters, but to my mind they are not very funny, rather pointedly unattractive.  The theme seems to be greed and the extent people will go to chase money and riches (I donít know if anyone finds them, probably not).  There doesnít seem to be a child hero who develops like Pip, David, or Nicholas.  Just the rather simple-minded Kit.  And Little Nell, who is passive and undeveloped (though it is early days yet).


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3339


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although it was a great favourite with its first Victorian readers, I doubt whether a modern reader would call it their favourite.  It's perhaps the most sentimental of CD's novels, but full of good things which could be by nobody else.



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