Monday, January 23, 2006

Charles Dickens A Bore?

On Friday, the New York Times made such a childish assertion, I can't help bringing it up again. In a review of "Bleak House," the new PBS miniseries, the Times said "'Bleak House' is too good to be homework. Unfortunately, it is such a fixture on required reading lists that many people forget to read Dickens' for fun."

Who exactly does the NYT have in mind? Presumably there are some buffoons out there that don't like Dickens, but they're hardly likely to be reading the Friday arts section of the NYT. Of course, the book that pops up on most reading lists is "Great Expectations," not "Bleak House." But whether students are reading "Great Expectations" or "Bleak House" or "Oliver Twist" or "David Copperfield" or just about anything else by Dickens, their usual reaction is not boredom (it's hardly "The Scarlet Letter" or some other worthy novel short on dramatics but long on critical praise) but excitement over one of the great entertainments. Charles Dickens is one of the most beloved writers of all time; his serialized novels were the "24" of their day, with each chapter providing a delicious cliffhanger. To what possible audience does the NYT think it's talking in assuming that we all think Dickens is a bore? (USA Today made an almost identical claim.)

2 comments:

Ed Sikov said...

"Unfortunately, it is such a fixture on required reading lists that many people forget to read Dickens' for fun."

The sentence is so idiotic one scarcely knows where to begin. Is it unfortunate that people "forget" - ?! - to read for pleasure or that it's on required reading lists? And presumably "many people" are not in college or graduate school, so "required reading lists" aren't really a problem for the majority of readers. And how does one's interest in Victorian Lit, or British Authors, or Great Books of the World, lead to memory loss in the pleasure centers of the brain?

It's too stupid to argue about this. I don't know why I'm arguing about this.

Michael in New York said...

Why are you arguing about this?