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Also finally getting around to reading Dickens, now in English and in full consciousness. I remember I couldn't finish Oliver Twist back when I was eight or nine as I kept bursting into tears, it was so bleak. Haven't gotten very far yet; read A Christmas Carol (which I liked), Great Expectations (which I really liked) and am now (or rather was, before the existential crisis hit) reading Hard Times. And oh yes, I see why Dickens has been, and is, so popular. Such a fluid style, at times jocular, at times quite serious; many characters of delightful or disturbing eccentricity, genuinely different from each other (take Wemmick with his 'private personality' or Miss Havisham, who is quite the madwoman in the attic). There's character development indeed, proper morals are being upheld, and social critique (in A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations - Hard Times starts out quite differently) is comparatively mild and non-alienating, rather like the tut-tutting of one's good-natured uncle, a sort of "well, let us not go to the extremes, or else see what could happen?" Consider Wemmick and Jaggers, for instance: both characters are extreme, and them having 'private' and 'public' personalities is grotesque, but it is this grotesqueness, together with their various redeeming qualities - Jaggers' dependability, Wemmick's jovial eccentricity in personal life - that takes the sting out of critique they are a part of - quite by design, too - leaving the almost-friendly reproof that nearly anyone could agree with and many would appreciate.

And there is many, many a wonderful moment. Both characters and objects give performances that are nearly theatrical - see, for instance, Scrooge sing a duet with a church bell:

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought it over and over, and could make nothing of it. The more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavored not to think, the more he thought. Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked all through, "Was it a dream or not?"
Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three quarters more, when he remembered, on a sudden, that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled one. He resolved to lie awake until the hour was passed; and, considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to Heaven, this was perhaps the wisest resolution in his power.
The quarter was so long, that he was more than once convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously, and missed the clock. At length it broke upon his listening ear.
"Ding, dong!"
"A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting.
"Ding, dong!"
"Half past," said Scrooge.
"Ding, dong!"
"A quarter to it," said Scrooge.
"Ding, dong!"
"The hour itself," said Scrooge, triumphantly, "and nothing else!"
He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy ONE. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant and the curtains of his bed were drawn.


Even the reader gets involved - see this same scene continued:

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up in to a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.

Rather endearing, isn't it.

Well, I'll go get back to reading.

P.S. "Wittles" means "victuals", said with an accent. Took me some time to figure that one out. :)

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