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David Copperfield

My colleague and friend Kate Lawson runs a fabulous Dickens reading group that reads novels at the pace at which they were published in serial form. So that means, say, three chapters and no more or less in one month. They meet at the Grad House once a month. I've tried to participate, but I get out of synch very easily, and forget to go to the meetings. As a second best measure I've been trying to read the novels in my own time. So now I'm reading David Copperfield.

I'm about 5 chapters into it and it's fantastic. It's hilarious, and full of marvelous characters, as usual with Dickens. But it is distinguished, I think, by the narrator's voice in the first part -- David gives us the perspective of a grown man re-imagining his childhood view of life, and the result is both deeply amusing and profoundly moving. Slightly ominous too.

I thought I really didn't like Dickens when I was an undergrad. I think we had to read Tale of Two Cities in high school, which I enjoyed, but thought was kind of a potboiler and a tad melodramatic. In my last year of undergraduate studies my teacher (Maggie Redekop) assigned Our Mutual Friend which was simply too long to manage, at least for me. So it's been one of the many gifts delivered to me in middle age, to discover Dickens. So far I've read most of Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend (for real this time). And now DC. Highly recommended.