R.'s Reviews > Our Mutual Friend

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
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's review
Oct 21, 08

bookshelves: to-read

I don't know if I was supertired or Dickens gawt slawppy, but I spent three pages last night thinking I was reading about the inner life of a dinner table the family had nicknamed "Twemlow".

The confusing to passage: There was an innocent piece of dinner-furniture that went upon easy castors and was kept over a livery stable-yard in Duke Street, Saint James's, when not in use, to whom the Veneerings were a source of blind confusion. The name of this article was Twemlow. Being first cousin to Lord Snigsworth, he was in frequent requisition, and at many houses might be said to represent the dining-table in its normal state. Mr and Mrs Veneering, for example, arranging a dinner, habitually started with Twemlow, and then put leaves in him, or added guests to him. Sometimes, the table consisted of Twemlow and half a dozen leaves; sometimes, of Twemlow and a dozen leaves; sometimes, Twemlow was pulled out to his utmost extent of twenty leaves. Mr and Mrs Veneering on occasions of ceremony faced each other in the centre of the board, and thus the parallel still held; for, it always happened that the more Twemlow was pulled out, the further he found himself from the center, and nearer to the sideboard at one end of the room, or the window-curtains at the other.

Paid by the word much? Bonus for semicolons? Anyways, Dickens intentions are clearer today: he wanted to make certain the Constant Reader got the seating chart for the Veneerings down pat. Thanks, Chuck. Thanks.

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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by R. (new) - added it

R. Well, I'm glad I saw the uncensored version before you edited it down; hopefully you kept a copy for your files - some great writing there.

message 2: by R. (new) - added it

R. The reformatory hasn't been in operation since 1972?! You mean I was free to leave at any time?!

message 3: by R. (new) - added it

R. What if this side is the other side? And what if the state of affairs right now is what the Elder Gods consider "everlasting peace"?

Yeah. I know. Deep.

Rachel Regarding the table called Twemlow: it took me several trips across that section to realize that Twemlow was a person, and not some lispingly named piece of furniture.

I know that Dickens edited Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, and was continuously telling her to edit it down. Reading this (I'm on page 580 or so), it seems pretty cheeky.

Modern Hermeneut I too got tripped up on the introduction of Twemlow. Now I don't feel so stupid. (Though, I should note that I've made some far less forgivable mistakes with Dickens in the past. Example: In Tale of Two Cities, I thought all the guys referred to as "Jacques" were just coincidentally named the same thing, instead of realizing that it was a code to identify the revolutionaries.)

message 6: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy I completely agree. It really had me confused!

message 7: by SLK (new) - rated it 4 stars

SLK If you watch the movie, you can see how he fits in...Always referred to as "there", always present, never commenting...Last chapter (or so) is when he comes out and doesn't let the "Social Biddy"silence his commentary on "society"...

Borys Huh) I too had some trouble with that passage, but English is foreign to me, so I guess that's all right then

message 9: by June Louise (new) - added it

June Louise Yup, I have to admit I thought the dinner table was called Twemlow too....I had to read the passage a couple of times more 1) for it to make sense and 2) to realise Twemlow was actually a human!

Feliks Novels were the cable TV of Victorian times. Grant some leeway.

message 11: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary Mccarty I usually don 't read a lot of reviews but I read yours. I just finished listening to that passage on the audio version and also thought for many sentences that Dickens was personifying a table .

message 12: by Jane (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jane Begermi Well I'm glad I'm not the only one! had to read the 2 pages twice to realize twemlow was a man and not a table

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