Tag Archives: Charles Dickens

Tess of the D’Urbervilles (by Thomas Hardy)

9781411433267_p0_v1_s260x420I decided I wanted to be a novelist because of Charles Dickens.  I loved the way he told a story with vivid characters, rising and falling crises, and story arcs that arrive at a happily-ever-after, or a how-sad-but-sweet-the-world-is ultimate goal.  Sometimes he reached both destinations with the same story, like in David Copperfield or The Old Curiosity Shop.  I have wanted to write like that since I read The Old Curiosity Shop in 9th Grade.

Thomas Hardy has a lot in common with Chuck.  I mean, more than just being old Victorian coots.  Hardy knows the Wessex countryside, Blackmoor and Casterbridge with the depth and understanding that Dickens bestows on London.  Hardy can delineate a character as clearly and as keenly as Dickens, as shown by Diggory Venn, the Reddleman in Return of the Native, or Tess Durbyfield in the novel I am reading at the moment.  These characters present us with an archetypal image and weave a story around it that speaks to themes with soul-shaking depth.  Whereas Dickens will amuse and make us laugh at the antics of the Artful Dodger or Mr. Dick or Jerry Cruncher from a Tale of Two Cities, Hardy makes us feel the ache and the sadness of love wrecked by conflict with the corrupt and selfish modern world.  Today I read a gem of a scene with the three milkmaids, Izz, Retty, and Marian looking longingly out the window at the young gentleman Angel Clare.  Each wants the young man to notice her and fall in love with her.  Sad-faced Izz is a dark-haired and brooding personality.  Round-faced Marian is more jolly and happy-go-lucky.  Young Retty is entirely bound up by shyness and the uncertainty of youth.  Yet each admits to her crush and secret hopes.  Tess, meanwhile, overhears all of it, all the time knowing that Angel is falling in love with her.  And worse yet, she has sworn to herself never to let another man fall in love with her because of the shameful way Alec D’Urberville took advantage of her, a quaint old phrase that in our time would mean date rape.  There is such bittersweet nectar to be had in the characterizations and plots of these old Victorian novels.  They are more than a hundred years old, and thus, not easy to read, but worth every grain of effort you sprinkle upon it.  I am determined now to finish rereading Tess of the Durbervilles, and further determined to learn from it, even if it kills me.

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Chuck Dickens and the Origins of Writing

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Don’t make the mistake of thinking I have any earthly idea where writing comes from or how it began.  I am only talking personal history here, nothing grander or more meaningful.  This post is only self-referential hoo-haw, which is a fancy way of interpreting “conceited crap”.

So, the truth is, I am writing about Charles Dickens because he is the author I most want to become.  True, I rant on and on about Twain and his humor.  And a good deal of my artwork owes everything to Disney, but everything I am good at in writing is based on Dickens.

The first actual Dickens novel that I read was accomplished during my extended illness as a high school sophomore.  I read in bed, both at home and in the hospital, from my library copy of The Old Curiosity Shop.  I was enthralled by the journey and subsequent tragedy of Little Nell.  I thoroughly loathed the villain Daniel Quilp and was roundly thrilled by his well-deserved fatal comeuppance.  It was my first encounter with the master of characters.  I followed that reading with a biography of Dickens that revealed to me for the first time that his characters were based on real people.  Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield was actually Dickens’ own father.  Little Nell was the cousin he dearly loved who died in his arms.    The crafty Fagin was a caricature of a well-known fence named Soloman, a Jew of infamous reputation, but not without his redeeming quality of caring for the orphaned poor.  So it is that I have chosen to make my silly stories about real people in much the same way Dickens did.  If you are now worried that since you know me, you may end up in my books, never fear.  I change names and splice characters together.  You will have to make an effort to recognize yourself.  And, besides, nobody reads my books anyway.

I also like the way Dickens uses young characters and follows them over time as they grow and change.  Oliver Twist was the first child protagonist in English literature.  David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, and Pip in Great Expectations are also like that.  David Copperfield, in fact, is Chuck’s own fictionalized self.  I fully intend to do the same.  It is the reason my books fall into the Young Adult category.  I also intend to employ the same kind of gentle, innocent humor that Dickens used.  I mean to portray things that are funny in a disarming, absurdist way rather than resorting to attack humor and bad words.

There it is, then, my tribute to Charles Dickens, a writer who makes me be who I am and write what I write.  I am not supposed to do Christmas posts because of my avowed religion, but you can consider this to be as close as I can come.  The author of A Christmas Carol… it doesn’t get much more Christmassy than that.

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The Uncritical Critic Likes to Read Books Too!

I told you before that I make a lousy movie critic because I watch anything and everything and like most of it.  You don’t believe me?  You can look it up through this link; The Uncritical Critic

I hate to tell you this, but it is almost exactly the same for books too.

flying goldfish

The Paffooney is an illustration for a proposed collaboration on a children’s book.  My friend and fellow author Stuart R. West (Stuart’s Blogspot about Aliens) had a story about three kids taking a balloon ride when they accidentally gave the goldfish bubble gum to chew ignoring their mother’s warning that dire consequences would follow.  He decided the project was too ridiculous to follow through on, or at least my Paffooney power wasn’t up to making sense of his brilliant literature, and the book did not happen.  And I am sorry about that because I couldn’t wait to find out how it turns out.  I love weird and wild stories of all kinds.  And, unfortunately, I love them uncritically.

So, what kind of books would a goofy uncritical critic actually recommend? Let me lay some bookishness on ya then.

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Here is the review I wrote for Goodreads on Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

I have always felt, since the day I first picked up a copy of Mort by Terry Pratchett, that he was an absolute genius at humor-and-satire style fantasy fiction. In fact, he is a genius compared to any author in any genre. He has a mind that belongs up there with Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and William Faulkner… or down there as the case may well be. This book is one of his best, though that is a list that includes most of his Discworld novels.
Amazing Maurice is a magically enhanced cat with multiple magically enhanced mice for minions. And the cat has stumbled on a sure fire money-making scheme that completely encompasses the myth of Pied Piper of Hamlin. In fact, it puts the myth in a blender, turns it on high, and even forgets to secure the lid. It is funny, heartwarming, and changes the way you look at mice and evil cats.
This is a book to be read more than once and laughed at for the rest of your life.

You see what I mean?  I uncritically praise books that make me laugh and think deeply about things at the same time.  It is as if I don’t have any standards at all if something is brilliantly written and makes a deep and influential impression on me.

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Here’s another book that I love so much I can’t be properly critical when I reread it.  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  I cannot help but be taken in by the unrequited love the dissolute lawyer Sydney Carton had for the beautiful refugee from the French Revolution, Lucy Manette.  Tragic love stories melt my old heart.  And I can’t help but root for Charles Darnay as well, even though I know what’s going to happen in Paris at the Bastille because I have read this book three times and seen the Ronald Coleman movie five times.  I also love the comical side characters like Jerry Cruncher the grave-robber and hired man as well as Miss Pross, the undefeatable champion of Miss Lucy and key opposer to mad Madam Defarge.

I simply cannot be talked out of praising the books I read… and especially the books I love.  I am totally uncritical as a reader, foolishly only looking for things I like about a book.  Real critics are supposed to read a book and make faces that remind you of look on my little brother’s face when I had to help him use an outhouse for the first time.  (Oh, what a lovely smell that was!)  (And I mean that sarcastically!)  Real critics are supposed to tell you what they hated about the book and what was done in such a juvenile and unprofessional way that it spoiled all other books forever.  That’s right isn’t it?  Real critics are supposed to do that?  Maybe I am glad I’m not a real critic.

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Tess of the D’Urbervilles (by Thomas Hardy)

9781411433267_p0_v1_s260x420I decided I wanted to be a novelist because of Charles Dickens.  I loved the way he told a story with vivid characters, rising and falling crises, and story arcs that arrive at a happily-ever-after, or a how-sad-but-sweet-the-world-is ultimate goal.  Sometimes he reached both destinations with the same story, like in David Copperfield or The Old Curiosity Shop.  I have wanted to write like that since I read The Old Curiosity Shop in 9th Grade.

Thomas Hardy has a lot in common with Chuck.  I mean, more than just being old Victorian coots.  Hardy knows the Wessex countryside, Blackmoor and Casterbridge with the depth and understanding that Dickens bestows on London.  Hardy can delineate a character as clearly and as keenly as Dickens, as shown by Diggory Venn, the Reddleman in Return of the Native, or Tess Durbyfield in the novel I am reading at the moment.  These characters present us with an archetypal image and weave a story around it that speaks to themes with soul-shaking depth.  Whereas Dickens will amuse and make us laugh at the antics of the Artful Dodger or Mr. Dick or Jerry Cruncher from a Tale of Two Cities, Hardy makes us feel the ache and the sadness of love wrecked by conflict with the corrupt and selfish modern world.  Today I read a gem of a scene with the three milkmaids, Izz, Retty, and Marian looking longingly out the window at the young gentleman Angel Clare.  Each wants the young man to notice her and fall in love with her.  Sad-faced Izz is a dark-haired and brooding personality.  Round-faced Marian is more jolly and happy-go-lucky.  Young Retty is entirely bound up by shyness and the uncertainty of youth.  Yet each admits to her crush and secret hopes.  Tess, meanwhile, overhears all of it, all the time knowing that Angel is falling in love with her.  And worse yet, she has sworn to herself never to let another man fall in love with her because of the shameful way Alec D’Urberville took advantage of her, a quaint old phrase that in our time would mean date rape.  There is such bittersweet nectar to be had in the characterizations and plots of these old Victorian novels.  They are more than a hundred years old, and thus, not easy to read, but worth every grain of effort you sprinkle upon it.  I am determined now to finish rereading Tess of the Durbervilles, and further determined to learn from it, even if it kills me.

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David Copperfield

David Copperfield

I believe a very important part of my art training is illustrating some of the books that I love. That being said, there is probably no writer that I love more than Charles Dickens. Here I tried to capture the sweet-sad relationship between David and Little Emily when Peggotty took him to Yarmouth. I used red, yellow, and blue, the primary colors to show fullness, completeness and the lovely warmth of family love that he captured there.

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February 4, 2014 · 12:10 am

Chuck Dickens and the Origins of Writing

Image

 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking I have any earthly idea where writing comes from or how it began.  I am only talking personal history here, nothing grander or more meaningful.  This post is only self-referential hoo-haw, which is a fancy way of interpreting “conceited crap”.

So, the truth is, I am writing about Charles Dickens because he is the author I most want to become.  True, I rant on and on about Twain and his humor.  And a good deal of my artwork owes everything to Disney, but everything I am good at in writing is based on Dickens.

The first actual Dickens novel that I read was accomplished during my extended illness as a high school sophomore.  I read in bed, both at home and in the hospital, from my library copy of The Old Curiosity Shop.  I was enthralled by the journey and subsequent tragedy of Little Nell.  I thoroughly loathed the villain Daniel Quilp and was roundly thrilled by his well-deserved fatal comeuppance.  It was my first encounter with the master of characters.  I followed that reading with a biography of Dickens that revealed to me for the first time that his characters were based on real people.  Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield was actually Dickens’ own father.  Little Nell was the cousin he dearly loved who died in his arms.    The crafty Fagin was a caricature of a well-known fence named Soloman, a Jew of infamous reputation, but not without his redeeming quality of caring for the orphaned poor.  So it is that I have chosen to make my silly stories about real people in much the same way Dickens did.  If you are now worried that since you know me, you may end up in my books, never fear.  I change names and splice characters together.  You will have to make an effort to recognize yourself.  And, besides, nobody reads my books anyway.

I also like the way Dickens uses young characters and follows them over time as they grow and change.  Oliver Twist was the first child protagonist in English literature.  David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, and Pip in Great Expectations also like that.  David Copperfield, in fact, is Chuck’s own fictionalized self.  I fully intend to do the same.  It is the reason my books fall into the Young Adult category.  I also intend to employ the same kind of gentle, innocent humor that Dickens used.  I mean to portray things that are funny in a disarming, absurdist way rather than resorting to attack humor and bad words. 

There it is, then, my tribute to Charles Dickens, a writer who makes me be who I am and write what I write.  I am not supposed to do Christmas posts because of my avowed religion, but you can consider this to be as close as I can come.  The author of A Christmas Carol… it doesn’t get much more Christmassy than that. 

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