Posts Tagged ‘Charles Dickens’

Where would we be in this life without books?  T’is a question I ponder often.  I for one would be completely lost if it weren’t for some of the great literary works of man.  Then I think how the majority of our population has completely discounted the act of reading for pleasure almost all together.  This fact saddens me deeply at the imbecilic future the masses are doomed to live.  If this is the case then it is a bleak future we all are to face.

For those of us who do still enjoy the written word and if you are reading this I would assume you must not hate it for this blog is still more content then visual or audio.  Every so often I like to share what I have been reading and what is worth your time.

Book XXXI: Fates Worse Then Death, Kurt Vonnegut, Putnam 1991, 240 pages.
“Why should they behave well, quite certain as they were that neither heaven nor hell awaited them? Virtue was its own reward.”  Kurt Vonnegut just may be one of the more important writers of the twentieth century.   Definitely one of the best to come out of the world wars camp. For myself this was actually my first reading of his and it so happened to be one of his last works.  It was enough to spark my interests.  Fates Worse Then Death was more of a collection of random thoughts and memoirs for the author looking back over his exceptional life and career then an actual novel.  The book reminded me of a more sophisticated and educated version of SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Its a fast easy read and worth the time.

Book XXXII: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 1859, Wordsworth Classics Edition, 1993, 321 Pages.
Ah yes what may have been Dickens’ greatest novel and one of my all time favorites has been inspiring audiences for years.  If I had to pick three novels to be stuck on an island with this would surely be one.  The plight of one of literature’s infamous anti heroes, Sydney Carton is presented.  A man one can’t help but to both love and despise at the same time.  A man who despite all evil manages to love better then every seemingly decent character in the story.    In the end he redeems himself beautifully.  I have read this work 10 times and have at least another ten in me.  “When you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love besides you.”

Currently I am reading The Ambassadors by Henry James.  I am about half way through and at the moment have not had the most time for reading with all the usual distractions in my life.  Happy reading.


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This weeks UCB makes a winner of John Mauriello who inadvertently made a suggestion on yesterday’s book club blog and spurred on an entire new segment I would like to call Chris’ Notes.  You remember back in high school and even in college when you would pick up those twenty page summaries of classics and used them to cheat with instead of reading the actual book.  I know I did.  I love reading, but when you have to read a novel or two a week it gets hectic.

So as most of you know in the Book Club portion of this blog I always write a summary of my feelings on the former book each time there is a new entry.  John had asked just recently with the Oliver Twist that I write a summary about the actual story.  I got to thinking that would make a most splendid new segment.  Instead of Cliff’s notes which may actual enhance your literary enlightenment of a novel we will have Chris’ Notes that will for sure cause you to fail if you use it as your primary resource.  John gets 2 points since his suggestion will become a new segment.

Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist is about this orphan who is born in a Christian workhouse, a bastard child from an unidentified mother.  She dies in child birth leaving him at the mercy of this corrupt place of charity that over works and starves the poor, while the parish heads rape the system.  Upon his mother’s death she bestowed one of the nurses with a locket and some other proofs of Oliver’s birthright, which get stolen and pawned by another nurse.

From infancy to kinder years Oliver is reared by the forceful and neglectful care of this bullshit despicable old lady who profits on starving orphans. He comes of age and is brought back to the workhouse where his life just mildly improves. The modus operandi of the house being to slowly starve the poor while working them to the bone.  Nothing but good wholesome Christian values being dished out there.

One day after being forcefully threatened by an older boy Oliver asks for seconds of the meager gruel that is dished out during lunch time.  “Please sir may I have some more?” For this heinous act he is sternly beaten and a ransom is put out to any tradesman who will apprentice the boy.  He gets picked up by the local coffin maker who sees in Oliver’s eyes a kind gentle soul.

Oliver is very happy to be put to a useful cause and gives his all to his new trade.  Unfortunately the coffin maker’s other apprentice this douche bag Noah Claypole feels threatened by Oliver’s eagerness to learn and winning of the boss’ favoritism.  Claypole frames the poor boy claiming he beat him up and the cleaning girl, Charlotte, even though Noah is twice the size of Oliver.  Twist is severely punished for his misdoings and decides to escape and make a run for London first chance he gets.

On his way to London he meets up with a boy around his age, John Dawkins or better known as the “The Artul Dodger” for his impeccable feats as a pickpocket.  Dodger recruits Oliver, by making him think he is going to a good home.  In reality it is basically an 18th century London version of a Detroit crack house where Oliver is unknowingly taught the trade of thievery by the ringleader of the gang, a Jew who goes by the name of Fagin.

Deciding Oliver is ready for the streets, Fagin sends him out with Dodger and another pickpocket, Charlie Bates.  When Oliver observes what is really going on he is appalled (a result of his predestined genuine quality) that his new friends are ruthless thieves.  In his shock he is mistaken for the actual perpetrator.  He flees the scene and is chased by an angry mob insinuated by both Bates and The Artful.  He is caught up with, tackled beaten then arrested.

Beaten so bad he can hardly walk he is taken in front of the magistrate.  The gentleman he is the victim, a Mr. Brownlow sees in Oliver’s eyes that he could not have been the one who robbed him and decides not to press charges, instead taking the boy home with him where he is nursed back to health.

Meanwhile Fagin, heartbroken with the loss of his new apprentice sends a pickpocket turned prostitute Nancy out to find the kid.  Once cured of his illness/injures Brownlow seeks a meeting with Oliver to procure his story, being that Oliver resembles the likeness of a close childhood friend of his.  Before getting the entire story, Brownlow sends Oliver on an errand to return some books to the Library and get some bread as a show of his trust.

In the process Nancy the little whore she is kidnaps Twist and brings him back to Fagin.  This other sinister Gentleman, Monks appoints Oliver along with this bad ass criminal Bill Sikes and his gang to go rob these rich people in the country.  The owners of the house are suppose to be in the country on holiday.  Turns out the whole thing was a set up and Oliver gets shot in the chaos of the fudged robbery.  Sikes drags the kid with him for a few miles before leaving him for dead in a ditch.  Some how Oliver survives and manages to make his way back to exact house he was forced to rob.

He is found passed out on the front lawn and is taken in by the Maylie’s.  At first the gentlemen of the house wish to turn him over the police till they are convinced otherwise by Rose and her Aunt that the boy was too gentle to ever commit a crime.  They nurse him back to health and then bring him with them to the country where he is educated.  In the process Rose is taken ill and nearly dies.  Upon her survival she is proposed marriage by Harry Maylie, whom she rejects in order to save his bright political career, being of an illegitimate birth herself.

Time passes and all the while Oliver is getting well groomed and educated by his new benefactors.  Him and the Maylies end up in London where Oliver searches for Brownlow to make known to him the particulars of his unfortunate disappearance.  At the same time Nancy the slut who captured Oliver from Brownlow finds news of some misdoings towards Oliver by Fagin, Sikes and Monks.  Unable to live with herself for the wrongs she brought to Oliver, she seeks out Rose and explains to her that Monks destroyed some artifacts that proved Oliver is of noble blood and entitled to an inheritance.

With this knowledge Rose and Oliver call upon Brownlow who is overjoyed to be reunited with his young countenance.  Brownlow hears the story and immediately puts the mystery to pasture.  As it turns out Monks is Oliver’s half brother and owed half his fortune to Oliver when his being alive was made known unless Oliver had turned to a life of crime.  This is the reason Monks set up Twist and Sikes at the Maylie house in the first place.  It also turns out Rose is Oliver’s aunt and Brownlow was entrusted by Oliver’s father to make sure he go his share of the inheritance that was to be split between him and Monks by a letter sent to him shortly after Oliver’s father’s death.

With the fear of being brought to the gallows Monks signs a confession and agreement to pay Oliver half his fortune and leave England all together.  In the meantime while all this was happening.  Sikes brutally murders Nancy when Fagin has Noah Claypole (that’s right the old apprentice, now turned thief) follow her to disclose the information she gave Rose about Oliver.  As a result the whole gang gets busted.  Sikes accidentally hangs himself in attempt to escape an angry mob.

Fagin is hung for all his wrong doings, Dodger is hung as well although a few chapters earlier.  Harry Maylie denounces his position in life, opting to take up a parsonage at a small church in the country thus Marrying Rose.  Brownlow adopts Oliver and he moves there as well.  The tale ends with all of them happily passing their days in each other’s company.   I thought reading the book was exhausting, but summarizing a 600 page novel in less the 1500 words is just plain Masochistic.

Speaking of Masochism...

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Book XII: Gilead, Marilynne Robinson, 2004, 247 pages

I don’t know all that much about this novel.  I picked it up at a yard sale for around seventy five cents.  Its a bit more modern then what I am used to reading, but the book did win a Pulitzer.  A Pulitzer Prize is some serious shit in the literary world.  If a bunch of smart people over at Columbia University believe this novel is worth a read who am I to argue.  I guess we will find out.

Summary of Book XI, Oliver Twist:  

What a dreadful book this was.  Many of my literary friends had told me Oliver Twist was a tough book to stomach and a difficult read.  Countless other reading enthusiast told me they had picked it up and were unable to get through it.  Always being one to stick my hand in the fire and get burned to find out that its hot I decided to go for it.  All I can say is that reading this novel was exhausting, demoralizing, depressing, heart wrenching and down right despicable.  I love Dickens but this one was a bit too dark for even the likes of me.  I am talking chills up my spine.  It took me nearly four months to finish the thing.  I mean sure I have been a bit on the lazy side , but usually I make time to enjoy a good read.  If anyone actually read this one I would love to hear what your feelings on it were.

"Please sir, may I have some more"

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Book XI: Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens, first published serially 1837, 601 pages

It always comes back to Dickens for me.  By far I would have to say he is one of my favorite authors to ever hold a pen.  His wit and portrayal of characters is unsurpassed.   I really did want to wait a while before introducing another Dickens novel to the club with Great Expectations only just recently being entered, but my desire to read more of his work overtook my zeal for variety.  Oliver twist is one of his darker novels as far as looking into the despicable nature of the human soul.  Go out grab a copy and lets wrap out minds into yet another literary masterpiece.  I lost my tattered thrift store copy and had to go out and buy one at a real book store and still it only costs me $5.  I bought that and a blank journal and the blank journal cost thrice a great work in human literature.

Summary of Book X: Lord of the flies 

If you missed Lord of the Flies I would definitely recommend picking up a copy, although from the feed back I have gotten it appears that I am the only person in the America who did not read the book in 8th grade.  All I can say is it is a powerfully disturbing tale of human nature in its ugliest form.  Its all of 200 pages, you can read that on two train commutes, pick up and see for yourself.

This has nothing to do with Charles Dickens, Lord of the Flies or Oliver Twist but I thought it was a pretty thought provoking picture. "Talk amongst yourselves".

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Book VI: Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens, First Published in 1861, 442 Pages

Believe it or not I have never read Great Expectations apparently everyone else has back in high school yet none I have spoken to can remember much about it.  It seems to me to read a work and have it beyond one’s recall is rather sad, but who am I to judge.  Other ingenious commentators expressed their thoughts in the form of “Isnt that a really old book”?  Idiocracy aside Charles Dickens is an author I have  not read all that much of.  I just began this one and am only on page 35 so feel free to join in the fun of literacy.

Summary of Book V: Wuthering Heights

So going into this book I did not know what to expect considering the book jacket deemed it as one of the greatest love stories ever.  As it turned out the tale was one of anger, revenge and hatred, three of my favorite themes.  It may just be one of the best vengeful plot novels I have ever read.  I would say it is a must read for everyone.  You think Im a despicable human being the main character has me beat by a million.

Here is an artist rendering of Dickens. What a crazy beard.

This has nothing to do with Charles Dickens at all but I found it ever so amusing.

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