Monday, December 27, 2010
There is an awful lot of Charles Dickens on the Penguin list of classics, some of it not so great (Edwin Drood) some of it totally awesome (most everything else). Copperfield falls into the awesome category. It's a sweeping, semi-autobiographical novel full of memorable scenes and more memorable characters. The bad guys are really bad and the good guys are really good and there are even some people who occupy a nuanced, grey area.
This is Copperfield's book. He is writing it at a time after he has become an accomplished author looking back on how he got there. He has a unique voice, enthusiastic and emotional, that makes the book chug along even when it hits some slow spots.
The characters are what make Copperfield, otherwise it's a slightly overdramatic plot with criticisms of several of Britain's institutions. Uriah Heep, Mr. Micawber, Steerforth, Mr. Dick, Miss Dartle, Peggotty, Aunt Betsey, Dora and on and on. Heep is particularly noteworthy for his capability to be hated for his humbleness.
As for the plot we see David's whole life. He loses his secure place in society when his mother remarries and scrambles for everything he gets from there. There are many who help and hinder him on his path to adulthood. There are even a lot of twists and turns that I didn't see coming, The Tempest chapter is dramatic and touching, there might have been some tears shed in one of the death scenes as well.
Rating 9/10: High level Dickens. Touching, entertaining, funny, and memorable; this one deserves to be in the list.