Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What the Dickens!

Rumor has it that Charles Dickens was paid to write by the word, so his works are extra-long for that extra-special treatment for his pocketbook. His stories, however, are still loved the world over, whether they talk about ghosts of Christmas, or young people finding love in all places.

Reviewing Dickens is also a challenge, and on many different levels. Working against the background of the Industrial Revolution, Dickens’ work has to be critiqued according to the times in which it is set, and how these times affect the goings-on in his works. Moreover, many of Dickens’ characters have become staples in common parlance (Micawber, anyone?), so they need to be critiqued not just in the context of the work, but in how they have transcended the pages of a book to become part of everyday language.

Speaking of challenges, you will review a novel by Dickens. There are many ways for you to attack this activity. You can critique the characters and whether they are moved forward by the plot too much and appear too helpless to withstand the many challenges that come their way; or they move the plot forward and take their lives by the reins.

You can critique the plot and see how the story is influenced by Dickens’ life and time. You can critique the little stories that weave to form part of the bigger story that the novel strives to tell. You can critique even from a feminist perspective and see how Dickens empowers (or disempowers) women in his work. You can select which novel you want to review by visiting, picking a novel, and then either visiting your favorite bookstore or ordering it. If you already have a copy, lucky you!

Whatever it is you choose to do, good luck on your review! Reviewing Dickens can be an invigorating experience. It can allow you a glimpse into the life and work of one of the greatest literary masters, and it can allow you to understand what makes his work timeless.

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