Dickens in December – Wrap up

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It’s a sure sign that the year is ending when we publish more wrap up posts than original posts. The end of 2012 also marks the end of Dickens’s bicentenary and of Delia and my Dickens in December event. It’s time to thank all of those who have participated and have joined in the readalong or reviewed books and movies. The links below show that the event was quite a success. I enjoyed it a lot and am glad that I have finally read one of Dickens novels. It will not be my last. A special thank you to my co-host Delia.

Thank you once more and I hope you enjoyed  it as well.

Intro Delia

Intro Caroline

Intro Post (Resistance is Futile)

Intro Post (Leeswamme’s Blog)

Intro Post (50 Year Project)

Intro Post (Rikki’s Teleidoscope)

Intro Post (Page 247)

Intro (Books Speak Volumes)

Dickens in December Begins Today (Beauyt is A Sleeping Cat)

Intro (Too Fond)

Dickens in December Start (Postcards for Asia)

Some Dickens for December (Kaggy’s Bookish Ramblings)

Giveaways Delia – Caroline

Classics Club December Meme – A Christmas Carol (Too Fond)

Great Expectations (Fanda Classiclit)

Bleak House (The Argumentative Old Git)

My Favorite Dickens Quote (On the Homefront)

Great Expectations (My Reading Journal)

A Tale of Two Cities (Babbling Books)

Dickens in December – A mixed bag (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Rikki’s Teleidoscope)

Dickens Project (Reader Woman)

A Christmas Carol – Jim Carrey Version (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Great Expectations mini series (Fanda Classiclit)

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby (2001) — (Postcards from Asia)

Oliver Twist- The Movie (Leeswamme’s Blog)

The Chimes (The Argumentative Old Git)

Dickens on Screen: David Copperfield, The old Curiosity Shop, Great Expectations (Postcards from Asia)

The Old Curiosity Shop (Tabula Rasa)

Great Expectations (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

A Tale of Two Cities (50 Year Project)

Three Detective Anecdotes (Cceativeshadows)

Havisham and Bleak Expectations (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Blackadder’s A Christmas Carol (Rikki’s Teleidoscope)

Great Expectations (Lynn’s Book Blog)

A Christmas Carol BBC Version (Rikkis’ Teleidoscope)

The Pickwick Papers (Tony’s Reading List)

A Christmas Carol (Surgabukuku)

Great Expectations (50 Year Project)

A very short review A Tale of Two Cities (Leeswamme’s Blog)

Three Short Stories (Postcards from Asia)

A Tale of Two Cities (Tabula Rasa)

Dodger by Terry Pratchett and Dickens by Peter Ackroyd (Tabula Rasa)

Hard Times (Vishy’s Blog)

The Old Curiosity Shop (Kiss a Cloud)

Readalong participants

50 Year Project (TBM)

Dolce Bellezza (Bellezza)

Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

Polychrome Interest (Novia)

Postcards from Asia (Delia)

The Argumentative Old Git (Himadri)

The Things You Can Read  (Cynthia)Questions and Answers

The Things You Can Read Student Comments

The View From the Palace (Shimona)

Lost in the Covers (Elisa)

Leeswamme’s Blog (Judith)

Lynn’s Book Blog

Love. Laughter and a Touch of Insanity (Trish)

A Work in Progress (Danielle)

Sandra – please see comments section

Tabula Rasa (Pryia)

Slightly Cultural, Most Thoughtful and Inevitably Irrelevant (Arenel)

My Reading Journal (Ann)

Vishy’s Blog (Vishy)

Resistance is Futile (Rachel)

Too Fond

Beauty is a Sleeping Cat (Caroline)

Dickens in December – A Christmas Carol – Readalong

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It didn’t take Delia and me very long to decide which book to choose for our Dickens in December readalong. There really couldn’t be a more fitting book to read just before Christmas than Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Last week we sent out a few questions. Some of you have chosen to answer them for the readalong, others wrote a review. Both is fine and all the links to the different contributions can be found at the end of my post and will help you to find the participants and visit their blogs. It’s updated regularly, so come back and check who else has contributed.

Is this the first time you are reading the story?

I have read A Christmas Carol before, I guess some 5 or 6 years ago and already knew then that I would read it again some day.

Did you like it?

I liked it very much 5 years ago that’s why I knew I would read it again. I still liked it this time around but for very different reasons. I was much more attentive this time to the moral of the story. The first time I was paying more attention to the descriptions.

Which was your favorite scene?

I have two favourite scenes or parts. One is the scene when Marley’s ghost appears. It’s quite spooky and Scrooge’s shock is shown so well. It’s also a very dark passage as there is clearly no redemption for Marley. It’s too late for him to change anything. While the whole story is about the power of change, this first part is a cautionary tale showing us that while Dickens did believe in change that didn’t mean he was an optimist who didn’t see that there were lost souls too.

The second part I liked a lot was when Scrooge first follows the second spirit. The descriptions are among the most evocative. They show Dickens’s style amazingly well.

Which was your least favorite scene?

I couldn’t think of a scene I didn’t like.
Which spirit and his stories did you find the most interesting?

I found the third spirit and how he was described, his appearance, the most interesting. He was the most ghostly but I liked the stories and what the second spirit showed Scrooge the most. These were the stories, I think, which reached Scrooge’s heart and let it melt.
Was there a character you wish you knew more about?

I would have liked to know more about Marley. Why did he become such an embittered old man?
How did you like the end?

It’s a perfect ending, Scrooge’s joy can be felt in every line and is very contagious. It’s the illustration of the belief that people can always change as long as they are still alive. And it also shows that there are good people in the world. While Scrooge has to make an effort and change, if the others were not ready to forgive him, we wouldn’t have this happy ending.
Did you think it was believable?

I think that someone can change profoundly but maybe not in such a short time.
Do you know anyone like Scrooge?

I know people with Scrooge-like traits but nobody who is as bad as he is.
Did he deserve to be saved?

Scrooge had a heart of stone but he wasn’t treating himself any better than others which I think makes a huge difference. If he had been spending a lot, living in luxury, feasting but depriving others, I would not so easily say yes to this question but given that he didn’t harm others for his own sake or actively inflict pain, I’d say, yes, the change of attitude and sentiment is reason enough for him to be saved.

Other contributions

50 Year Project (TBM)

Dolce Bellezza (Bellezza)

Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

Polychrome Interest (Novia)

Postcards from Asia (Delia)

The Argumentative Old Git (Himadri)

The Things You Can Read  (Cynthia)Questions and Answers

The Things You Can Read Student Comments

The View From the Palace (Shimona)

Lost in the Covers (Elisa)

Leeswamme’s Blog (Judith)

Lynn’s Book Blog

Love. Laughter and a Touch of Insanity (Trish)

A Work in Progress (Danielle)

Sandra – please see comments section

Tabula Rasa (Pryia)

Slightly Cultural, Most Thoughtful and Inevitably Irrelevant (Arenel)

My Reading Journal (Ann)

Vishy’s Blog (Vishy)

Resistance is Futile (Rachel)

Too Fond of Books

Beauty is a Sleeping Cat (Caroline)

Charles Dickens: Great Expectations (1861)

In Great Expectations the orphan Pip tells the story of his life. He tells us how, after having lost his parents as a small child, he was brought up “by hand” by his mean and quarrelsome sister who hit him and her husband. How his sister’s husband Joe and Biddy the teacher were the only kind people in his life. How he met a convict and helped him. How he was invited to the excentric and melancholy Miss Havisham to play at her house. How he saw the wonderous house for the first time and met the beautiful Estella who would be the love of his life. How being introduced to Miss Havisham and Estella made him long for another life and feel ashamed of his own. How finally he was made rich and hoping for great expectations from an unknown benefactor. And how in the end things turned out in a very different way.

Great Expectations offered everything I expected from Dickens and so much more. The only thing I could criticize is that it was predictable and that there were a lot of coincidences which didn’t seem all that realistic but who cares. There is so much in this novel to like that I can easily forget its flaws. The characters were, as was to be expected, quirky and over-the top, much more caricatures than portraits, but drawn which such a wonderful imagination that I loved each one of them.

I also liked the atmosphere, how with a few words, a few sentences he captures a mood, a season, the weather, a location, a house, a street. All his descriptions are highly evocative and one sees every little detail.

There were many uncanny, witty and captivating scenes and I would have a hard time picking favorites. I liked all the chapters at Miss Havisham’s house. The sorrow and grief which had made the time stand still in that place and entrapped its owner for eternity, gave the book a very gothic feel.

But I also loved all the scenes including Mr Jagger’s clerk Wemmick and his father. They made me chuckle very often. They are such an endearing couple.

To do this book justice and write properly about it, I would need more time which I don’t have. Maybe I will return to it next year and write something a bit more detailed.

For now I would just like to say, I loved it for many reasons but what stood out the most is that Dickens comes across as a writer with a huge heart who can even  make many of his villains endearing.

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A Christmas Carol (2009) The Kitty Scare Version

Of all the possible movies based on A Christmas Carol I had to pick one of the more recent ones, the animated Disney version from 2009. I had already seen the one with Alistair Sims which is absolutely great and wanted to watch a modern one this time.

I suppose this intro has already  told you what you wanted to know, namely whether I liked it or not. Obviously I didn’t and that’s actually quite sad because it had such a lot of potential. The beginning of this movie is stunning. It really gets you into a white Christmas mood, is atmospherical and appealing. I liked the way they showed the streets of London, up close and from above. The first half is equally good but as soon as the second spirit appears it wasn’t good anymore but extremely annoying. The second spirit is a jovial, bulky man, sitting on the top of a Christmas tree and laughing the most annoying laugh in movie history. It even made the cat run. I tell you, nothing makes that cat run once she is installed on my lap, on top of that, nothing usually scares her. Not even the Hoover. But that mad laugh did it. She fled to her basket behind the TV, far away from the speakers and half an hour later, when there was wild screaming and drama in the final moments of the movie, I had to go see what was happening as the poor little thing was having the mother of all nightmares and squeaking like a piglet.

The cat, I’m happy to report, has recovered but she is a bit grumpy. 

Don't mess with me

I hope others were luckier in their choices or found a more kitty friendly version of A Christmas Carol. I would have watched Great Expectations but I have still 250 pages left to read and will not watch it before I finished the book.

Dickens in December Begins Today

It’s already December and time that we start reading our Dickens novels and watch some movies based on his books. The detailed plan of this month can be found in the Introductory and Sing up Post. I’m co-hosting this event together with Delia (Postcards from Asia). Don’t miss to visit her blog as well.

The most important date to keep in mind is December 21 as that is the date for our A Christmas Carol readalong.

I have already started Great Expectations and really like it so far.

I will re-watch the movie Great Expectations (1998) starring Gwyneth Paltrow as I loved it but I would also like to watch one of the many versions of A Christmas Carol. The one from 1935 can been watched on YouTube.

Do you have a favorite movie version of A Christmas Carol? Let me know. I have a hard time choosing the one I should see.

Dickens in December

As you know, this year marked the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens. When I reviewed The Dickens Dictionary this summer Delia (Postcards from Asia) had the wonderful idea to dedicate the last month of the year to Dickens and celebrate him in different ways. We decided we will read and review one or several of his novels in December, host a readalong and a watchalong and at least two giveaways. Because Christmas isn’t far, it seemed a good idea to choose  A Christmas Carol as our readalong title. It’s a short novel and online copies are available for free. The readalong will take place on Friday 21 December. We will send out questions one week in advance, you can either use those or just post a review.

The weekend of 14/15 December is dedicated to movies based on Dickens’ novels. You are free to choose whatever you like, just post your review either on Saturday or Sunday.

I hope that many will feel tempted to join us. I’m really looking forward to this. I had a list of authors I wanted to read for the first time this year and Dickens was one of them. I’ve only read A Christmas Carol so far. I decided that I will read Great Expectations and re-watch the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

Here is the detailed program of the event

Book reviews – You can choose any Dickens book you like, even books inspired by his work like Lynn Shepherd’s Tom-All-Alone’s are an option. Non-fiction on Dickens is welcome too. We will collect and add all your reviews on a page dedicated to the event. Date: 1 December – end of month.

Watchalong: You can choose any movie based on a Dickens novel. Date: 9 – 15 December

Giveaway: There will be two giveaways during 16-21 December. One will be on this, the other one on Delia’s blog.

Readalong: We decided to read A Christmas Carol.  We will send a couple of questions to those who participate. If you don’t like that approach, just post a review or your impressions and join the discussion. Date: Friday 21 December

Wrap up post: At the end of the month, the event will be wrapped up and a post containing all the links of the participants will be posted on our blogs.

Please consider joining Delia and me.

Anyone who wants to join, please grab a badge and sign up in the comment form. Tell us whether you will also read along, so we can send you the questions. There is no need to tell us which books and movies you will choose but you can do so in an intro post.

I would like to thank Delia for the idea, for co-hosting and for the lovely badge which she has designed. The title of the event is inspired by Roof Beam Reader’s Austen in August.

Here is Delia’s intro post.

John Sutherland: The Dickens Dictionary (2012)

Although I’m one of those who has been tiptoeing around Dickens’ work for a while now without reading anything else but A Christmas Carol and part I of David Copperfield, I’m still interested in the author and the work. I also have a feeling I’m familiar with his novels without having read them because I saw the one or the other movie based on his books and because creations of great artists seem to acquire a life of their own and seem to go on living outside of the confined space of the book covers. People mention them, talk about them as if they were real people.

When I discovered The Dickens Dictionary on Mel U’s blog (here is the post) I knew I had to get it right away and since it arrived yesterday afternoon I spent many moments with it.

The author John Sutherland is a recently retired professor who has taught and published on Victorian novels. Browsing his book and reading the one and the other of the 100 collected entries, you discover not only a world of information but a book written by someone who is passionate about the subject and knows how to write about it in a way that will make you feel the urge to grab the next Dickens novel at hand. Sutherland’s aim was

When I think of Dickens I do not see a literary monument but an Old Curiosity Shop, stuffed with surprising things: what the Germans call a Wunderkammer – a chamber of wonders.

This book, taking as it’s starting point 100 words with a particular Dickensian flavour and relevance, is a tour round the curiosities, from the persistent smudged fingerprint picked up in the blacking factory in which Dickens suffered as a little boy to the nightmares he suffered from his unwise visit at feeding time to the snake-room of London Zoo.

The 100 entries cover such different subjects as Bastards, Blue Death, Candles, Cats, Child Abuse, Dead Babies, Dogs, Fog, Hands, Incest, Merrikins, Onions, Pies, Pubs, Smells, Thames…. They are all entirely fascinating.

What certainly adds to the appeal of this book are the many illustrations.  There is one on almost every other page.

I also liked the many quotes Sutherland included which give a good feeling for the work. Since I have still not decided which will finally be my first Dickens, this book will help me make up my mind.

To give you an idea of the entries I chose the one called Blue Death.The title refers to the Cholera epidemic of 1848-49 during which 52,000 Londoners died. The entry explains where it came from – India 1817 – and how Dickens and most people thought it was miasmic. He referred to it in Bleak House in his description of Tom-All-Alones’s. His rival Thackeray contracted the Cholera and might have died if Dickens hadn’t sent his own physician.

The Dickens Dictionary is a great introduction to Dickens, it contains quotes and references of the various novels, anecdotes from Dickens life, historical facts of Victorian London and a whole range of other “curiosities”.

As I said, I still don’t know which should be my first Dickens. Which one would you recommend?