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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Great Expectations (1861) by Charles Dickens

Gwyneth Paltrow, nude in the movie version of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens for some odd reason.

Great Expectations (1861)
 by Charles Dickens
Audio Book

   I listened to Great Expectations on audio book because I just couldn't deal with the print version, and because I've read that Charles Dickens made a great deal of money reading his books out loud on speaking tours, and that such speaking tours were an almost equal basis for his fame and literary reputation.  Great Expectations is also the most popular Dickens narrative in recent history in terms of film and television adaptations.  There have been film versions in 1989, 1998 and 2012, and TV versions in  1999 and 2011.  There has been at least one television or filmed version in every decade since the invention of film.
Ethan Hawke as Pip in the film version that also starred Gwyneth Paltrow.
      First of all, it took me forever to finish the audio book edition of Great Expectations.  59 chapters, and each chapter averaged about 20 minutes of listening time, so 1200 minute, so about 20 hours of listening time, entirely when I was driving or taking the train between San Diego and Los Angeles or San Diego and El Centro.  Basically a month of driving, listening to Great Expectations in the car.

  As you would expect if you have a back ground in Charles Dickens biography, Great Expectations really works as an Audio book, since the characters are meant, in effect, to be read out loud.  Dickens, of course, did not read entire books on his tours, he would just do scenes, and much of Great Expectations best moments simply stand alone in terms of it being a physical description of a location in London or some portion of extraneous dialogue.  Listening to Great Expectations made me very conscious of how wordy Dickens is in the manner of having character using extraneous words and the employment of numerous character who circumlocute.

 In fact, you could argue that circumlocution is a major theme in Dickens and his dialogue, to the point where Moderns may think that it actually characterized Victorian speech rather than being a narrative technique developed by a specific writer due to the dictates of the marketplace and it's hunger for content.

  Excess time commitment aside, I quite enjoyed LISTENING to Dickens instead of reading him, since many of the annoying traits on the page come off as charming when spoken.  A reader needing to read several Dickens novel in a fixed time period might well contemplate a free version of one of his major novels as an alternative to reading the text.  Dickens himself would certainly approve.

Other Posts About Charles Dickens On This Blog

Book Review:  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens11/20/14
Book Review: Dickens and His Readers: Aspects of Novel Criticism Since 1836 by George H. Ford. 3/25/13
Book Review: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, 3/17/13.
Book Review:  Dickens Worlds by Humphrey House, 3/8/13
Book Review: Bleak House by Charles Dickens, 9/21/12
Book Review: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 8/23/12
Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 7/17/12.
Book Review: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby by Charles Dickens, 6/19/12.
Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, 6/7/12.

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