OOf, you guys, this one nearly killed me, I gotta tell you.
I’ve read Dickens before, and I’ve enjoyed, even loved, Dickens before. (Great Expectations for the win!) But man, nothing, nothing prepared me for the onslaught of childhood misery, bizarre coincidence and virtuous goody-goody perfection of David Copperfield.
Man alive is David Copperfield annoying. Not the book, which is something of a masterpiece and apparently largely autobiographical, but David himself, the character, is so bumbling and yet perfect that he makes Oliver look like a scheming bastard.
For the most part, I enjoyed certain segments of the book, though not the sum total (that’s kind of the deal with Dickens and me though.) David’s a pretty passive protagonist, and observer above all and yet still somehow manages to come off as ridiculously pious. I generally enjoyed any portion of the book focused on The Pegotty family (probably the strongest through line) and found David’s Aunt Betsy Trotwood delightful, even if I was never able to fully grasp what her deal was.
The general sense of “silly girlishness” that most of the female characters held as their main characteristic (excepting Agnes, David’s one true love) was kind of hard to swallow by the end, even if Dickens writes with more compassion and depth for women than many other men of his time (or this time, or any time, to be frank…). But in general I liked it and I’m glad to have read it.
I probably won’t read more Dickens for a while. Excepting a reread of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve this year, I’ve never felt a real pull to reread any of his work, except Great Expectations which I’ve read like five times. To be fair to both Mr. Dickens and the other books I’ve read, Great Expectations is pretty much his only romance, albeit a tragic one, and I think we’v established that that’s a thing I care a great deal about.
I enjoyed a lot of the school passages, Dickens writes about school beautifully. But I really just couldn’t get past my intense dislike of David himself to enjoy the book, and was a lot to get it finished, like a lot, a lot.
Next up is The Alchemist, because I bought it back in that first Barnes And Noble run, it’s short, and I want to get it knocked out. Trying to keep the TBR under control, y’all. Next epic is Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. Another that I will have showtunes to help me get through. Let’s reach for the unreachable star my friends!