Great Books Week 2011- Day 5 Challenge Question

What is your favorite Charles Dickens novel, if any? Why?

In this blog challenge question for Friday, October 7, 2011, we consider the possibility that you may not only prefer another Dickens novel, but even the possibility that you may not care for Dickens at all. If you fall into the latter camp, perhaps Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s essay on “My favourite Dickens: Great Expectations” in The Guardian will shed a little light on what there is to like in this venerable classic.

If you can’t remember all his titles, below is a list of novels by Charles Dickens. Most were first published in serial format, with readers waiting anxiously for the next installment.

Dickens gave readings to benefit charity.

According to Wikipedia, Dickens’s technique of writing in monthly or weekly installments (depending on the work) can be understood by analyzing his relationship with his illustrators. The several artists who filled this role were privy to the contents and intentions of Dickens’s installments before the general public. Thus, by reading these correspondences between author and illustrator, the intentions behind Dickens’s work can be better understood. These also reveal how the interests of the reader and author do not coincide.

A great example of that appears in the monthly novel Oliver Twist. At one point in this work, Dickens had Oliver become embroiled in a robbery. That particular monthly installment concludes with young Oliver being shot. Readers expected that they would be forced to wait only a month to find out the outcome of that gunshot. In fact, Dickens did not reveal what became of young Oliver in the succeeding number. Rather, the reading public was forced to wait two months to discover if the boy lived.

Another important impact of Dickens’s episodic writing style resulted from his exposure to the opinions of his readers. Since Dickens did not write the chapters very far ahead of their publication, he was allowed to witness the public reaction and alter the story depending on those public reactions.

Dickens was an active author, traveling through the United Kingdom and America to promote his work through public readings (modern authors take note!). As he became more and more successful, he did readings to benefit many charities.

  • The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
  • The Adventures of Oliver Twist
  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
  • The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty
  • The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
  • Dombey and Son
  • David Copperfield
  • Bleak House
  • Hard Times: For These Times
  • Little Dorrit
  • ATale of Two Cities
  • Great Expectations
  • Our Mutual Friend
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • The Christmas books:
  • A Christmas Carol (1843)
  • The Chimes (1844)
  • The Cricket on the Hearth (1845)
  • The Battle of Life (1846)
  • The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain (1848)

If you’d like to participate in the challenge, write a post on your own blog on the topic of the day, then jump back to this page to leave your post title and link in the comment section so that others can enjoy what you’ve written. Be sure to share your posts in Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. You may read more about the challenge on the Day 1 post.

Great Books Week 2011 free downloadable poster

“I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.”

~E.M. Forster