I wanted to read this book because of a story told at uni. My teacher said that a Dutch correspondent or ambassador (I can't quite remember), was convI wanted to read this book because of a story told at uni. My teacher said that a Dutch correspondent or ambassador (I can't quite remember), was convinced the Netherlands had to read this fantastic book as well. So, one night, he got himself some alcohol and started translating the book. I think he got about 100 pages done before he sent it in, and this seriously lacking translation was published. I don't even know if this anecdote is true. I just know it sounded interesting, and made me want to read the book. I still think this is the most interesting thing about this book.. the book just didn't fully work for me.
It's a story full of unlikeable characters, cruel characters, basically a story of some of the bad things in the world. At the same time, it's also full of Berlin trivia. It's kind of paradoxical how I remember the Weimarer Republik as a good period from my classes at uni, full of creativity and the rise of human and women's rights, but that at the same time there was so much poverty, and so much hardship in the world. I think the book definitely manages to incorporate the hardships of the city into the story.
The storytelling was a bit odd, sometimes just focusing on Franz, at other times talking of Berlin. It didn't fully come together for me, personally. So I think I should reread this at some point, but I don't know if I really want to. The story itself didn't capture me, a crime story, with, like mentioned, unlikeable characters. I also didn't really like the Berlin dialect, to me it looks strange in print. I couldn't get used to it. There just weren't many redeemable points for me.
The one thing that will really stay with me, is the diary descriptions of a random girl, irrelevant to the main story, that Döblin describes on pages 330-331 (in my edition):
10. Juli. "Seit gestern nachmittag geht es mir wieder besser; aber der guten Tage sind jetzt immer so wenige. Ich kann mich zu keinem aussprechen, wie ich möchte. Darum habe ich mich nun entschlossen, alles aufzuschreiben. Wenn meine Zustände auftreten, dann bin ich zu nichts fähig, die geringsten Kleinigkeiten bereiten mir große Schwierigkeiten. Alles, was ich dann sehe, ruft immer neue Gedanken in mir hervor, und ich komme von diesen nicht los, bin dann auch sehr aufgeregt und kann mich nur schwer zwingen, irgend etwas zu tun. Eine große innere Unruhe treibt mich hin und her, und doch bringe ich nichts fertig. Zum Beispiel: frühmorgens, wenn ich erwache, dann möchte ich gar nicht aufstehen; aber ich zwinge mich doch dazu und spreche mir selbst Mut zu. Aber schon das Anziehen macht mir dann Mühe und dauert sehr lange, weil mir dabei schon wieder so viele Vorstellungen im Kopf rumgehen. Ich werde immer von dem Gedanken geplagt, irgend etwas verkehrt zu tun und dadurch Schade zu verursachen. (...) Und so geht es dann den ganzen Tag; alles, was ich tun muß, erscheint mir sehr schwer, und wenn ich mich dann doch dazu zwinge, es zu tun, so dauert es trotz der Mühe, die ich mir gebe, es schnell zu tun, sehr lange. So geht dann der Tag herum, und geschafft habe ich nichts, weil ich bei jeder Hantierung in Gedanken so lange verweilen muß. Wenn ich dann trotz aller Anstrengung doch nicht zurechtkomme im Leben, dann werde ich verzweifelt und weine dann sehr. (...) 14. August. Seit einer Woche geht es mir wieder sehr schlecht. Ich weiß nicht, was aus mir werden soll, wenn das so bleibt. Ich glaube, daß ich, wenn ich niemanden auf der Welt hätte, mir unbedenklich den Gashahn aufdrehen würde, aber so kann ich das meiner Mutter nicht antun. Aber ich wünsche mir wirklich sehr, daß ich eine schwere Krankheit bekommen möchte, an der ich dann sterben würde. Ich habe alles so niedergeschrieben, wie es wirklich in mir aussieht."
But sadly that's the only passage that really spoke to me. It's not a bad book at all, it definitely is quite interesting in points, but overall, I'm not overly impressed....more
I was really quite taken in with this book. The description of the islands were fascinating, especially because I knew nearly nothing about it. It wasI was really quite taken in with this book. The description of the islands were fascinating, especially because I knew nearly nothing about it. It was quite an interesting mentality to read about and I loved how the 'island English' was incorporated in the book.
The book however infuriated me a lot too. All of my hate is for parts 2 and 3, mostly because in this book I could really kill Mr. Rochester. The way he treated Antoinette was despicable. You definitely understand why she burned his house in the end. (At least, I suppose she did.) I know that this is probably not the story Charlotte Brontë had in mind as Rochester's background story, but if it were, I really think he did not deserve his happy ending. And that is putting what I feel very very mildly....more
When I bought Oliver Twist, I had just come back from London, where I had seen the revival production at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. I was one of thWhen I bought Oliver Twist, I had just come back from London, where I had seen the revival production at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. I was one of those people not overly familiar with the story before going to see it, but the musical imprinted itself on my mind as magical. To this day I will say it's the most stunning production I've ever seen, the sets so incredibly gorgeous that I really thought Oliver was running through London itself. And Dodger, we had such a charismatic Dodger. Overall, the musical evening was a huge success.
I only got around reading the book some 2.5 years after seeing the show. I didn't remember a lot of the particulars, and it was fun getting reacquianted with the story. It keeps surprising me how easy Dickens is to read. I put it off because I thought the book would be a hard read, but I set down, and easily lost myself in Oliver's story and Oliver's London. I didn't, however, find the book as magical as the musical. My memory provided me with the gorgeous setting for the show, and the songs kept on playing in my head. But there are subtle differences between the two stories, that actually make me prefer the musical.. though honestly, the book's story seems a little deeper, and includes more stories, that all tie up neatly in the end, everyone getting what he or she deserves. But I felt you got to know the characters better in the musical. The Dodger I loved so much in the show.. well, I didn't care much for him in the book. That's just one example, but there are more.
Oliver Twist is a story of an unfair world, an initially unlucky kid who somehow finds a little luck when he comes to London (some of which I found bizarre, ruining the credibility of the story for me). Naturally the story is bleak, it lacks the moments of fun the musical provides, there's no Oom-Pah-Pah, and really, though it'd seem misplaced in the book, I missed the slightly lighter tone of the stage show. It's not a bad book, but it's not a fun read either (at least not for me), despite the happy ending.
In the end, I'm glad I read this, but I think I personally do prefer the musical, because I have so many positive memories from it that I didn't really find again in this book. And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to run off to look for my copy of the London Revival cast recording for Oliver!....more