Monday, 18 August 2014

Great Expectations

Blurb: Great Expectations charts the progress of Pip from childhood through often painful experiences to adulthood, as he moves from the Kent marshes to busy, commercial London, encountering a variety of extraordinary characters ranging from Magwitch, the escaped convict, to Miss Havisham, locked up with her unhappy past and living with her ward, the arrogant, beautiful Estella. Pip must discover his true self, and his own set of values and priorities. Whether such values allow one to prosper in the complex world of early Victorian England is the major question posed by Great Expectations, one of Dickens's most fascinating, and disturbing, novels.

Thoughts: This was actually my first Dickens novel. In fact, I haven't read a huge amount of Victorian literature at all and I think it's something quite different to get into (the length, the heavy description, the format of the novels given that a lot were originally released serially). 

I suppose also because I tend to prefer modernist literature, I'm used to the style of writing being - very consciously - the most important component of a novel, and while it is undoubtedly well written, I think that the characterisation is more important. (Although I suppose the characterisation is wrapped up in the narrative as it's in first person...) Every character is incredibly well formed and feels so present.

I must admit though that it took me a while to get through, but maybe that is partly to do with me having to get used to the length of Victorian novels. Still, the storyline itself actually wasn't my favourite. I was slightly frustrated at the way it came together so neatly (although I suppose that could be seen as one of the book's successes). Nonetheless, I think I'd recommend it simply for its characters.

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