I have a problem with Great Expectations. The problem is, I believe I haven't read it. I have, three or four times, but the very first time, I didn't...moreI have a problem with Great Expectations. The problem is, I believe I haven't read it. I have, three or four times, but the very first time, I didn't finish it (we were reading it aloud on a class trip, and the trip ended) and somehow, no matter how often I read it, I think I've never finished it. It's been my secret shame.
So I'm writing this review to remind me. I have read Great Expectations. The parts of it I cherish are the sidelights: Magwitch, Wemmick and his Aged Parent. Even the Pockets tumbling up. In the introduction to this edition, John Irving mentions that the language shifts when the plot takes off. Perhaps that's why I stop remembering it: the sidelights fade. I've never had too much use for Mr. Pip (as opposed to young Pip, who is rather charming) -- none of his repentance and retrospective self-deprecation was enough for me.
While I see the craft in this book, and the rich imagery that makes it so beloved of English teachers, it is not my favorite Boz. It's well worth reading though, if only for the images -- the ruined wedding feast, the clerk 'posting' bits of toast through his mail-slot mouth, the family of gravestones by the marshes -- that will stick with you, even if the denouement insists on fading.(less)
This book is so very well written that many aspects of it seem to me to verge on perfection. It springs to mind a hundred times in discussing writing...moreThis book is so very well written that many aspects of it seem to me to verge on perfection. It springs to mind a hundred times in discussing writing craft, in discussing what a story should do, how framing can work, or indeed, when contemplating John Gardner's theory that novellas at their best have a "glassy perfection". This book manages to be an experience as well as a literary work, and the effect of its final pages is profound, worthwhile, and haunting.(less)