Thursday, October 04, 2007

I hate Charles Dickens and wish he would die

This is for the official record: I hate Charles Dickens.

Yes, I realize that is blasphemy. Here I am, a writer, and I have strong feelings of disgust for one who many feel is "the" American writer (even though he's English).

I will be fair, however. I have only read two of his books, "Great Expectations" and "A Christmas Carol," though I have also read a handful of his short stories.

To be even more fair, I will admit as a writer Dickens had his strong points. I think he was a great plotter. I find his characters iconic, though they bore me to tears.

For the most part, I can't stand his prose. I find Dickens' writing themost boring, infuriating text I have ever laid eyes upon. I would rather read a five-thousand-page technical manual on toasters than delve into another Dickens novel.

And it's not just that I don't like "old" writers. I love Alexandre Dumas. "Moby Dick" is one of my favorite novels (and I realize that one bores many readers).

I tried "David Copperfield," made it two pages and returned the book to the library. I tried "Oliver Twist" and didn't make it much farther. I have watched and enjoyed movies based upon this man's work.

Maybe it's because I had "Great Expectations" thrust down my throat in junior high school. I don't know. I just can't stand Dickens.

This is just my opinion. The rest of you are allowed to have bad taste.

Oh, and yes, I realize Dickens died June 9, 1870.


Howard von Darkmoor said...

nice of you to allow me bad taste. it's a good thing I don't have any though.

What's up with all the smushed words,man? Trying to ruin my eyes?

grendelsfather said...

Yes. At 23.59 pm I sat and typed into Google 'I hate the books of Charles Dickens', just to see if I could find anyone else in the world prepared to go on record as saying it.

For me it's the daft policy of robbing characters of any potential for development by summing them up in a name. I mean, Gradgrind is not going to be Mr Happy, is he? Bounderby is not marked out for a life of unimpeachable moral rectitude. Huh.

And the laboured prose, the overwrought descriptions ... no, I'll stop; I'm only working myself up, and my constitution can't really take it at this time of night.

It's not the age of it for me, either. I like Smollet, I like Swift. But I've dome out of the closet and I've said I hate the books of Dickens. I feel relieved, if scared by what I've done.

Ty said...

Hmmm ... maybe I should start a club.

Anonymous said...

Charles Dickens is already dead...

Ty Johnston said...

Anonywus, if you'd read the post, you would have seen that I acknowledged Dickens' death on June 9, 1870. But, instead, you voiced an uninformed opinion. Far too common nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should try "Oliver Twist" again. If you pay attention, it's actually pretty damn funny.

PianoWizzy said...

Hello, I'm a proud hater of Charles Dickens. By the way, the books A Tale Of Two Cities and Hard Times suck terribly as well. I would highly recommend them -- to someone I want dead, maybe. But I'm not typically that cruel.

Avila Rinvallam said...

I agree! I'm not alone! Dickens sucks!!

Anonymous said...

"I would rather read a five-thousand-page technical manual on toasters than delve into another Dickens novel."

O, Ty. Silly Ty. No real writer would say such a thing about Dickens. I'm quite certain that any book you ever write will be positively worthless.

Any "writer" who can't get past the first two pages of Oliver Twist or David Copperfield is insignificant as a human being.

Any normal intelligent person should be able to pick up on at least some aspects of Dickens's genius. You pick up on none.

Your taste is vulgar. You are the definition of a phillistine. (Why am I even bothering?)

Don't you understand??

Dickens is concerned with creating a fictional social totality. All his characters, from the lowest to the highest, are inextricable connected. Pick any of his novels, and I'll show you... O, wait... you've only read one...

True, his characters don't CHANGE slowly over the course of the novel like Tolstoy's or Eliot's. They often stay exactly the same.

Dickens's brilliance lies in the PATTERNS his characters make when put against one another.

There are PATTERNS in Dickens. All the characters are LINKED in Dickens. There is HUMOR OF THE HIGHEST CLASS in Dickens. There is BRILLIANCE in Dickens.

You simply do not understand Dickens. How you're capable of understanding Melville is beyond me....

- a disgusted 19-year-old reader

Ty Johnston said...

I didn't have to give approval for that last post, but I did. It shows the poster in a worse light than it does myself, as far as I'm concerned.

But I'm willing to stoop ...

Glad to know I am "insignificant as a human being," and that "no real writer" could dislike Dickens because, heaven forbid, someone have an opinion that differs from a 19-year-old at Sarah Lawrence College.

ginger said...

I'm so pleased to know Dickens is not universally enjoyed. Pickwick Papers is the first I tried to get to grips with. It is SO unfunny as well as nauseatingly twee - specially the dialogue. CD is supposed to be a realist but I cannot believe anyone spoke like that - ever. Bleak House is often said to be his best. I tried it 3 times, and only managed a few pages.


Anonymous said...

Oh my word. Me too. And I teach Victorian lit, but Dickens makes me want to scream.

Anonymous said...

I don't enjoy Dickens either; but nonetheless I agree with the many of the sentiments expressed by the anonymous 19 year-year-old-reader. You are not an insignificant human being, but you are a very poor reader if you can't find anything in Dickens to admire. Personally, I reserve hatred for violence, bigotry, cruelty and so on. As I say, I don't enjoy Dickens, but to 'hate' a man who has engaged so many readers is asinine. I, too, doubt that you're any any kind of writer.

Anonymous said...

Yes! There are others like me! And you are all right: Dickens is one of the most over-rated writers ever to have defaced paper with ink.

The wretched man thought in stereotypes. He gave the reader a spoiler in every name. "Uriah Heep", with his pale, scrofular appearance: need I say more? More to the point, need Dickens have written any more? The guy's a loser.
And as to the prose style. No, I'm not even going there. It would be too traumatic for my consitution. It's way too rich throughout with saccharine sprinkles ad nauseam.

Anonymous said...

I found this after typing "I hate charles dickens" into google, after trying to read David Copperfield last night, and previously trying to read "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", first in 11th grade and again earlier this year (there's almost 2 decades in that time span), and getting about thirty pages into it both times.

I loved Great Expectations. Thought it was a marvel of plotting, and the characters were brilliant (unchanging though they be), still brilliant, and fun as all hell.

I might try to get into David Copperfield again. It might just be a matter of re-learning the voice of the author so I can understand it better. It's not blissfully easy to read. I sort of like books that are blissfully easy to read.

Professor Pownall said...

Made a YouTube vid about my dislike of Dickens which seems to have hit more of a nerve than I realised existed. Here in case of interest: