Monday, November 21, 2011

Part XIII: Why is Charles Dickens so popular?

Unfortunately I cannot stomach reading Great Expectations. I lasted until page 224  out of 523 and decided to drop it. I doubt I will read it again anytime soon. Previously I have read A Tale of Two Cities which was my first Dickens book, and again I wonder why the heck is he so popular and well liked? He uses too many words to express a simple idea or actions, his characters aren't memorable and are pointless, the plots are very contrived, and the books themselves are boring. Sometimes I wonder if this is the case of the Emperor's clothes, with everyone too afraid to admit the truth; that Dickens is a bad writer and they're only saying he's good because they don't understand the writing themselves.

I wanted to like Charles Dickens' novels, I wanted to be blown away by their genius and all, but alas that's not my fate. I wish that other authors such as Ann Radcliffe or Wilkie Collins would be more well known than Dickens. From what I saw, both are amazing writers. Dickens seriously could have used character lessons from Wilkie Collins, for Collins' characters are well developed and unforgettable; the sergeant interested in flowers, the servant who loves reading Robinson Crusoe, the aunt who is very rigid and religious. What do I remember about Dickens' characters? Nothing. All I remember is that I remember nothing memorable about them.

Ann Radcliffe paints beautiful and breath taking nature scenes in The Mysteries of Udolpho. Somehow those descriptions balance out the weaknesses of the novel. Even though I read almost half of Dickens' Great Expectations, I barely remember anything about it; umm something about the boy who feels bad about his background and then he gets a chance to become a gentleman. I think I'll do much better reading wikipedia than reading the actual book. (Ouch, I know.)

I wonder if there's something wrong with me for not liking Charles Dickens novels? Perhaps I don't have the same background as everyone else in liking them; I am not of British descent, I am not even a christian for that matter, perhaps those things cause me to be removed from liking Dickens? I don't hate all things that are popular; for example I enjoyed reading Harry Potter, to an extent I liked reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, I also enjoyed reading Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, and yes, I loved reading Jane Austen's novels, and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, and all those books are well known and popular in the world. If one even wonders, I don't like Shakespeare's writings (yes, you read that right...) Dickens will go on the list, Meyer's Twilight Saga, Dumas' D'Artagnan Romances, etc.

Normally in the writings that I don't even like I can point out the good points that I liked with the books; for example in Shakespeare I admit that he had creative ideas and was talented with poetry and language; Meyer somehow created tension that made one remember high school emotions, and Dumas' D'Artagnan Romances created memorable characters in terms of Athos, Porthos, D'Artagnan and Aramis, to which everyone still remembers today. I cannot think of anything like that in Dickens' novels.

Dickens can be best remembered as someone I read and that's it. It's sad to think of an author this way, as sort of someone to brag about, but this is how I feel about reading the two books. I read them and that's it; I haven't learned any lessons or anything like that from them. I am not trying to insult anyone who loves Dickens and will haunt down to kill Dickens haters, but it's simply my own opinion, and I really am curious about why Dickens is so popular?

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