Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Retrospect

File:Copperfield cover serial.jpgThis morning I just finished another reading of David Copperfield.

Those new to my blog may not know that I've read DC at least once a year since 1977.  I read it three times in 1981, twice while in England.  The surprising highlight of that trip was becoming one of the throng standing outside Buckingham Palace when Charles and Diana married.

I do have pictures, such as they are, but since I'm in Cleveland I'll have to post them another time ... I haven't even scanned them into my computer yet.

I'm straying from my intended topic.

I read DC while in London.

I also read DC in Canterbury and Dover.

Places where the events in the novel took place.

DC helps me gauge my progress through life.  I was twenty years old the first time I read it, full of wonder and awe at the genius of Charles Dickens, wondering how in the hell he could pull off such an undertaking as a serial.

Even now, when I think about how he had not written the next installment before one was published, I sit in a state of awe.  He would have had no opportunity of correcting errors that later installments might have revealed, and those do exist.  I have found a fare few.  More than that, I marvel at how he wove together such an intricate, moving plot publishing it in such a way.

So how else have I stayed the same?

"I have loved you all my life." is still my favorite line in all of literature.

I am still a hopeful romantic.

Maybe it would be best to see how I've changed, even since last year's reading.

I'm thinking more critically of what I read.

I've always jumped into Victorian England with both feet when I open DC.  I live in that world for eighteen hours or so and return to my own with a touch of melancholy.

This read my mind insisted on abridging Dickens.  For this read, I lost the "jumping in" process.  I remained in the twenty-first century unable to handle all of the excess descriptions that those in the nineteenth century craved because they didn't have as much as radio for entertainment much less videogames.

I've been a prisoner of the past, and I have just stepped through the threshold into the present.

Abridge Dickens?  How arrogant!

Yet my eyes raced to the scenes that mattered.

True, I know the book well.  Almost without question I've read DC more than Dickens did.

But, living in the present day, I didn't need the extensive descriptions of London or Canterbury, or Dover.  Or even Yarmouth.  Or Gravesend.  I can Google search to get a representation more than the few sentences offered today.

I certainly didn't need pages in any case.

So I abridged Dickens.

The next time I read it, I'll either abridge it again, or see if my mind can time travel back to Victorian England and read every word.

Whether I will read it as a writer, or as a reader.

I'm interested to see which it will be.

What I know now is that, even after I abridged it, my favorite novel is still Dickens' "favourite child."


  1. Dig this meaty blog post, Rocky. So much to sink my choppers into...First, I should note that (brace yourself) I've not yet read David Copperfield. (Do I need to call the EMTs or are you up from your faint?) ;-) Take heart, I said "yet." Given your passionate love for it, I may have to add it to my teetering "To Be Read" stack.

    There is something super special about reading a thing where it's set, I agree.

    I'm amazed that Dickens wrote this as a serial. That takes some chutzpah, man. Dang.

    I'm struck by you calling yourself a "hopeful" romantic. What strikes me is the thoughtfulness behind the rephrasing, in this world where folks mindlessly spit out all sorts of nonsense in their sheep-like fashion. Meanwhile, I identify more with "hopeless" but in the sense that I hold out no hope, for myself. :-)

    I'm also a fan of 19th C. England, from the late Georgian era, to the Regency, to the reign of Victoria. I've got a lot of exploring to do still, though! :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

  2. Thanks so much, Mina! As long as there's a breath in my body, I'll hold out hope. I'm old enough to be realistic, but the romantic comes in so many forms, so many guises.

    Ah! And from one of the periods you cite, I'm a huge Jane Austen fan. I also dig Wuthering Heights though I can only read that once a decade. Others, too.


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