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I said a while back that I wanted to intersperse my reading of contemporary literature with some of the great classics I either missed out on or stubbornly refused to read even when they were assigned to me. I also said after my last book review that I wanted to give my brain a rest and read something a little more uplifting.
This wasn't it.
I take that back... It WAS uplifting in that the story ended the way it should have, with wrongs righted, questions answered, good rewarded, evil punished, and everyone living happily ever after. At least the ones who deserved it.
I don't think I was ever assigned to read Oliver Twist, because I should have remembered at least the Cliffs Notes version if I had been. I THINK I was assigned to read Bleak House in college, but I couldn't make it through it.
I've probably related here the story of being assigned A Tale of Two Cities when I was in high school. It was for a social studies class, which I was naive/immature enough to find "not fair" or something equally stupid, and I put off reading it until the night before the test. Then I tried to cram it all in, flipping pages rapidly and skimming my way through. Feeling smug, I turned the last page, only to read, "End of Volume I." What an idiot.
I became a fan of Dickens the next time I encountered A Tale of Two Cities, when I had to teach it to ninth graders. (Is it a sign of what has happened to our educational system that I don't believe there's a group of ninth graders anywhere on the planet now who could/would understand A Tale of Two Cities? Or is that just my cynicism showing...again?)
The language of Dickens can be hard to decipher sometimes, and his punctuation and sentence structure drive me crazy. Did they change the rules at some point regarding commas, semi-colons, and colons, or did he make up his own rules as he went? However, Dickens is so obviously tongue-in-cheek sometimes and downright sarcastic at others that I am forced to admire his work. I especially appreciate the fact that many of his books were first published in installments, and he couldn't even go back and change his mind about a plot line. Talk about commitment to the structure of a novel...
Anyway, I enjoyed Oliver Twist, and I may take on Bleak House. But not tonight.