Fiction. Short Stories. HTML: The most unique aspect of Charles Dickens' skill as a writer ‚?? and the characteristic that propelled him to unprecedented heights of literary fame ‚?? was his ability to immerse readers in the quotidian details of his characters' lives, loves, and struggles. That strength shines through in this vast collection of short pieces culled from Dickens' tenure as a newspaper columnist
The latter set of Tales were varied, with a few dull ones, but also some very funny ones, esp The Boarding House, Mr Minns and his Cousin (Dickens's first published piece as A Dinner at Poplar Walk), Horatio Sparkins and The Bloomsbury Christening. The Black Veil and The Drunkard's Death were very haunting.
The illustrations by George Cruikshank were marvellous, better than those by Phiz in my view, with a Hogarthian sort of feel about them. 4/5
I have finally done so and am glad to have made the effort despite the variable
In the section titled ‚ÄúScenes‚ÄĚ we see London of the 1830‚Äôs through Dickens eyes. He knew his city intimately and here he vividly evokes it‚Äôs sights and sounds just before the Victorian era dawns. He shows us pawn shops and the gin-soaked criminal quarter of Seven Dials. He visits Newgate Prison, inaugurating his lifetime interest in penal institutions. He takes us inside the London theatres and the cheerful vulgarity of Astley‚Äôs Amphitheatre. He sees everything and he also listens. Through him we hear the voices of costermongers and omnibus drivers, prison officers and shoppers, the pleasure seekers at Vauxhall Gardens .
These vibrant pieces are perhaps the best of these early writings. In ‚ÄúCharacters‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúTales‚ÄĚ we see his early attempts at imaginative writing. In later life he was critical of many of them, noting the rushed quality they had and seeing many of these short pieces as ‚Äúcrude and ill-considered, and bearing obvious marks of haste and inexperience.‚ÄĚ They are interesting though in showing us the development of the writer‚Äôs mind and we can see where characters such as Mr Pickwick and Sam Weller came from. I find myself in agreement with Thea Home who wrote the introduction for this ‚ÄėOxford‚Äô edition. She points out that the sketches have a special fascination in both fore-shadowing the work of a writer of genius and also revealing the young Boz . We are surely walking alongside Dickens himself when we encounter the patrons and performers of ‚ÄėPrivate Theatres‚Äô whose proprietors may be ‚Äú..an ex-scene painter, a low coffee-house keeper, a disappointed eighth-rate actor, a retired smuggler, or uncertificated bankrupt.‚ÄĚ
I particularly enjoyed ‚ÄúThe Tuggses at Ramsgate‚ÄĚ, partly set on a pleasure steamer on the Thames and brimful of vivid characters in a tale of a rise in fortune and social climbing gone sadly awry.
‚Äú..the City of London Ramsgate steamer was running gaily down the river. Her flag was flying, her band was playing, her passengers were conversing; everything about her seemed gay and lively,- No wonder- the Tuggses were on board.‚ÄĚ
I did come to the conclusion that the ‚Äėdipping‚Äô approach has something to be said for it with this collection, as reading straight through does become tedious. This is particularly the case with some of the weaker sections of this edition such as ‚ÄúThe Mudfog Papers‚ÄĚ which I would not recommend as the humour is forced and tedious in the extreme.
I experimented with using Libravox with this. On the plus side - a free, complete, audio copy of the book. On the down side, there was a HUGE difference in the quality of