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review 2015-12-27 22:25
A "Christmas Carol" for the 21st Century
A Christmas Carol (Audiocd) - Patrick Stewart,Charles Dickens

Part of my annual Christmas ritual -- and since this year I indulged by way of Patrick Stewart's splendid audio version and the TV adaptation it inspired, here's my review of the latter ... with the added note that my comments on Stewart's performance in the movie also apply to his reading, where he also does a splendid job getting under the skin (or whatever it is that ghosts have) of all the story's other characters.

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A Christmas Carol

 

Given the enormous potential for failure, it takes either a lot of guts or a big ego to remake a classic and step into a pair of shoes worn so well by the likes of George C. Scott and Alastair Sim -- you don't have to have grown up in an English speaking country to take those two names and their portrayal of Dickens's miserly anti-hero for granted as part of your Christmas experience. And I suspect a good part of both guts and ego was at play in this production; but let's face it: after years of bringing Scrooge to the stage in a much-acclaimed one man show and after also having recorded the audio book version of "A Christmas Carol," a movie adaptation starring Patrick Stewart was probably due to come out sooner or later. Yet, while it does sometimes have the feel of another huge star vehicle for Stewart (even without the self-congratulatory trailer and brief "behind the scenes" features included on the DVD), his experience and insight into the character of Scrooge allow him to pull off a remarkable performance, and to make the role his own without letting us forget who originally wrote the tale. From a "humbug" growled out from the very depth of his disdain and his audible desire to boil "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips" with his own pudding and bury them with a stake of holly through their heart, to the "splendid" and "most illustrious ... father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs," coughed up and spit out after years of having been out of practice, this is the Scrooge that Dickens described; and Stewart obviously has the time of his life playing him.

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Source: www.themisathena.info/movies/christmascarol1.html#ChristmasCarol-Stewart
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review 2014-02-28 06:09
Greatly Entertaining
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

I was thoroughly entertained by this and never found it a slog reading through its 800 plus pages--and that actually came as a surprise to me because I am by no means a Dickens fan. I decided to read this one because it's on the the list of 100 Significant Books I've been reading through--and because a friend told me that I should at least try this one before giving up on Dickens. This was actually his own favorite among his novels, and the one most autobiographical. Even knowing as little as I do of his life, I could certainly see plenty of parallels between the young Charles Dickens and David Copperfield. And especially given this was written in first person, this book has a confessional quality that drew me in and propelled me forward.

The thing is this novel I so enjoyed is guilty of every sin that so often drove me batty in Dickens: the rambling plot riddled with unlikely coincidences, the long, long length, the at times mawkish sentimentality, the phrases repeated again and again, the characterizations that often seemed more caricatures, and above all, the women characters that convince me Dickens thinks of the female gender as not quite human--or at least I felt so at first. David's mother Clara in particular drove me up the wall--I wanted to reach into the book and throttle her. It seemed to me in my reading of several of Dickens novels that his women run to four types or combinations and at first David Copperfield seemed no exception. There is the angelic creature who is often a victim, such as Clara, Little Em'ly, Agnes and Dora. There is the evil harridan such as Miss Murdstone or Rosa Dartle. There is the sacrificing Earth mother such as Peggoty. And finally, there is the (often rich) eccentric such as Betsy Trotwood. But ah, often the eccentric characters are so richly comic--and in the case of Trotwood there is more than initially met the eye--in fact I wasn't a third way through the novel before I loved her. And Agnes grew on me too. Not everyone's reaction--George Orwell, among others, despised the character. But she was the first female character who struck me as being a rational creature. But they're memorable--and not just the women. I don't think I'm ever going to forget Mr Micawber. I know I'll never forget Uriah Heep, the most odious, shudder-worthy villain I've met in literature.

So yes, after this book I got more of a sense of Dickens' charms. A Christmas Carol has been a favorite since childhood. And I did love Great Expectations--till the end, which I found a bit of a cheat. But I hated Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities. It's David Copperfield that's convinced me I should try more of Dickens. It was worth traversing its long and winding length.

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review 2011-04-23 00:00
The Mill on the Floss
The Mill on the Floss -

I read The Mill on the Floss, my third Victorian literature, as part of the Kansas City Public Library's 'A Taste of Victorian Literature' reading group during April 2011.

 

For the discussion topic questions and other interesting information provided by the Library to the group readers, please visit my initial blog post.

 

For a summary of the lecture and discussion held at the Plaza branch, please peruse my 'A Floss Runs Through Maggie' blog post.

Source: bit.ly/19wiWsW
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