REVIEW David Copperfield 107

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David CopperfieldL novelist Among the memorable cast of characters he encounters along the way are his brutal stepfather Mr Murdstone; bubbly Nurse Peggotty; his brilliant but unworthy schoolmate Steerforth his eccentric aunt Betsy Trotwood the scheming clerk Uriah Heep the enchanting Dora and the magnificent Mr Macawber a character much like Dickens' own fatherCharles Dickens was born in 1812 When he was twelve his father was sent. Call it an act of heresy but I’m abandoning this I’ve got to page 600 which means I’ve only another 150 pages to go but I’ve completely lost interest The characters are too one dimensional and you can see the plot coming as if it’s daubed in road marking paint I’ve read all of Dickens’ novels except the early ones and mostly loved them except for Tale of two Cities and the reason I’d never read this was I believed mistakenly it was another early one However it reads like an early one so I wasn’t completely mistaken By which I mean it’s lathered with sentimentality It was Dickens’ favourite of his novels which I find odd and doesn’t say much for his critical faculties but explains to me why he never uite excised the sentimental strain in his writing he simply couldn’t see it Because the sentimentality is like a sickly sweet smell on virtually every page of this novel Perhaps because of its autobiographical nature he enjoyed writing this a bit too much When an author gets carried away with the delights of his own story perhaps the inner editor goes into abeyance It doesn’t begin well David as a character reminded me of the AI in Stephen Spielberg’s film of the same name except unlike the AI his programming as irreproachable child never falters We’re presented with a moral universe of absolutes There’s no nuance Mr and Miss Murdstone are pantomime baddies as lacking in subtlety as their name suggests; Peggoty his nurse is a paragon of virtue David as child isn’t any kind of child I recognise He’s never mischievous or unruly Cruelty has no meaningful effect on his character He’s never capable of irrational response – good people after all can still be highly irritating and bad people fascinating and especially authoritative But only good people have authority for David which basically means he will never develop much as a character which he doesn’t David is a neutered foolproof moral touchstone The novel throughout has a pantomime binary moral system A character with one or two exceptions is either wholly good or wholly bad So the first 100 pages were a bit of a struggle for me I found Peggoty and the evil Murdstones tiresomely predictable It was therefore a massive relief when the morally ambiguous Steerforth arrives on the scene Finally we sense David might evolve from a potted plastic flower into one rooted in soil and subject to weather Finally we see his moral judgements are subject to error Finally we see the possibility of him being influenced by something other than unadulterated virtue Unfortunately though Dickens soon repeats the early template of moral absolutes with a new set of characters And Steerforth the only character capable of messing with David’s programmed predictability vanishes from the novel There’s no character development in this novel Even as an adult David still seems like a ten year old No surprise then that he falls in love with a female counterpart – an adult ten year old female Before reading this I would have nominated Dorothea and Casaubon in Middlemarch if someone had asked me which couple in the history of literature I found it most difficult to imagine having sex together However David and Dora now get that award In fact sex like everything else that happens to him has no notable effect on his character The moral light in this novel is glaring; it hurts the eyes No surprise then that the unpredictable dark charge of sex is hostile to its regulated lighting system and so ignored Of course it’s not all bad The sentence writing is consistently brilliant And as ever Dickens creates his characters with the startled wide eyed wonder of a child – always they have an almost hallucinated detailed vividness that larger than life uality a single oddball defining trait with which we tend to see grownups as children We magnify one detail which comes to represent the person in uestion It was probably his most inspired feature his ability to see the world through the eyes of a child but narrate his findings with the elouence of an adult Dickens has never been a great psychologist; he doesn’t have much to say about the inner life; his terrain is generally surfaces The surface of this novel reminded me of a gaudy birthday card with embossed pink hearts and ribbons splashed all over it For me Dickens is the master purveyor of the novel as light entertainment But this was soap opera than novel

Charles Dickens Ì 7 REVIEW

Charles Dickens' personal favourite David Copperfield is now reissued to celebrate Dickens' bicentenaryFull of tragedy and comedy in eual measure David Copperfield remains one of the most enduring and popular of Dickens' novelsBased in part on the author's own life David Copperfield is the epic story of a young man's journey of self discovery from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to his vocation as a successfu. DAVID COPPERFIELD MASTER VILLAINoh you architect of doomyour devious passivity and willful naivete know no boundariesyour crimes are manyyour poor doting mother hustled off to an early grave and you do nothingyou repay the Murdstones' attempts at improvement with intransigence and a savage biteyou return Mr Creakle's guiding hand with laziness and scornyou do nothing as your idol Steerforth humiliates Mr Mellyou run from honest work in a factory you must be too good for thatyou impose upon your poor dear aunt Betsy Trotwoodyou immediately discount poor umble Uriah Heep how dare you condescend to himyou say nothing as Rosa Dartle defames good honest people over dinneryou introduce that atrocious snake Steerforth to those good honest peopleyou terrorize your poor landladyyour drunken shenanigans with Steerforth are revolting good Agnes was no doubt secretly appalledyou caution Traddles to avoid generosity with Micawber mind your own business Iagoyou stalk your boss's daughter only Jip recognizes your villainyyou entangle poor Julia Mills in your schemingyou attempt to extract money from your workplace but fortunately Mr Spenlow and his partner are wise to your gambitsyou continue to stalk poor innocent Dora even after her father's untimely death and no doubt your villainy was the cause of thatyou bind Dora to you the poor doomed natural you set the servants against her you make her hold your pens you tyrantyou help Uriah Heep cause a good Doctor much stress you cast aspersions on that Doctor's own wife her cousin their marriageyou strike the poor umble Uriah Heep across the face a resounding blowyou monster berating and improving Dora to an early grave the poor natural the innocent child wife even Jip dies at your feetyou humiliate and drive away the poor umble Uriah Heepyou allow poor honest Ham to plunge into the sea to his deathyou fail to save your friend Steerforth from his own watery death you allow Rosa Dartle to heap abuse upon his grieving motheryou laughingly exile two families to criminal Australiayou secretly gloat and sneer while witnessing the very proper Mr Lattimer and poor umble Uriah Heep behind barsyour most dastardly deed stringing along the good Agnes for decades and finally you bind her to you in a long game marriage plot i fear for her safetyoh Diabolic Doadyoh you monstrous villain David Copperfield

READ David Copperfield

REVIEW David Copperfield 107 å Charles Dickens' personal favourite David Copperfield is now reissued to celebrate Dickens' bicentenaryFull of tragedy and comedy in eual measure David Copperfield remains one of the most enduring and popular of Dickens' novelsBased in part on the author's own life David Copperfield is the epic story of a young man's journey of selTo a debtor's prison and he was sent to work; the experiences from this time always haunted him After a brief career as a reporter Dickens began writing novels Published in serial form his work grew rapidly in popularity beginning with The Pickwick PapersToday Charles Dickens is one of the most recognized celebrities of English literature His many books include Oliver Twist Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life or whether that station will be held by anybody else these pages must show”Warning Following is somewhat of a “non review” I don’t have the stamina to write properly about this one at this time There are plenty of other splendid erudite assessments on this site if you are so inclined and which I highly recommendAs a teen I came across a box of old books in my parent’s basement This was very intriguing to me as neither of my parents could be called avid readers by any means To my delight the box contained several very old volumes of Dickens novels It turns out these were passed on from my grandfather who as far as I know never picked up a book for pleasure in his life It was a mystery of sorts as to where these books originated in the first place I thought perhaps after all I had an ancestor that treasured books as I do In any case David Copperfield was among those volumes It was too irresistible to pass up the chance to read a book that maybe a great grandfather or great grandmother had at one time held lovingly in his or her hands I liked to imagine such a thing while reading it at that time I always felt a little alone in my reading endeavors and this gave me a wee bit of comfortAs to the book itself the most vivid memories are of my experience finding it rather than actually reading it I recalled it was long much longer than anything I would ever have picked up at that age I also remember there being a profusion of characters Whether I liked it or not I have no idea thus when the opportunity to read it once again presented itself to me I jumped on it I left the old volume behind when I moved out of my childhood home so this time I decided to listen to the audio version Not just any audio would do however – the Richard Armitage narration There is no voice other than those of my children that gives me greater pleasure to listen to than his divine tongue Have you ever listened to him No Please do His performances are excellent and he does a range of voices that would please thrill and amuse any listener “Mature affection homage devotion does not easily express itself Its voice is low It is modest and retiring it lies in ambush waits and waits Such is the mature fruit Sometimes a life glides away and finds it still ripening in the shade”To be clear not only did I admire Richard Armitage’s dramatic accomplishments I rather adored David Copperfield as well This book is semi autobiographical in nature so one can see a bit of Dickens in young Copperfield The reader follows little David from birth through adulthood and you can’t help but champion him throughout You’ll pity the unfortunate lad and want to protect him from the likes of the Murdstones Your heart will break with his misfortunes as he goes forth alone in the world at far too young an age You’ll cross your fingers and your hopes will rise as he tramps to the doorstep of Betsey Trotwood You’ll delight in his young loves always so tender and reminiscent of those of your own perhaps He makes mistakes sometimes misplaces loyalties and continues to grow as a result Certainly Uriah Heep will make you recoil as he writhes and contorts and places his clammy hand in David’s palm Like any Dicken’s novel a spectacular array of characters will spring from the pages Dickens doesn’t let you forget a single person His vivid depictions will keep them in the forefront of your mind to be uickly retrieved when you meet them once again in later pages I can’t think of any other writer who does this uite so masterfully Some may argue they are just caricatures and that is perhaps true for some But there are others like David who are not merely cut outs but like living beings who develop and mature There are depths to be explored within them What I loved most about David Copperfield is the message that families can be made up of a myriad of individuals These are not necessarily blood relatives but persons that come into your life and take on the roles of mother father sister brother and so forth They do so with an abundance of protection and devotion that will make your spirit soar and once again restore your faith in the decency of some human beings “I hope that simple love and truth will be strong in the end I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world”