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Bleak House > Bleak House Week 2 - Chapters 8-13

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Chapters 8, 9, and 10 constituted the third monthly number. By this point we have been introduced to a range of characters and locations, but are still mostly in the dark as to how they might be interconnected, if indeed they are.

Esther seems to be settling in nicely as housekeeper at Bleak House, which actually seems to be a more significant responsibility than her expected role as companion to Ada, who really doesn’t need much oversight. Chapter 8 starts with a delightful domestic scene, the cheerful room, the gardens, the “dear little farm-yard,” then in to a pleasant breakfast with honey that inspires Skimpole, then Esther’s introduction to the Growlery. At least we get an inkling what Jarndyce v. Jarndyce is, or at least originally was, about: “a will, and the trusts under a will.” But now it’s just about feeding yet another generation of lawyers.

We then meet another dogooder in Mrs. Pardiggle, whose children are no happier than Mrs. Jellyby’s. She, at least, has some concern with local charity as well as foreign, but is her attention any more helpful to her visitees than that of Mrs. Jellyby is to the Africans?

As we move from the delightful early scenes of life at Bleak House to the visit to the bricklayer’s, we see a dramatic contrast between rich and poor, between the gentry who do not need to work for living and those who make those lives possible through their labor. But we also see that both share the fate of humanity, in the death of Tom Jarndyce and the death of the infant of the bricklayer. It is of course easy to say that the attention of Esther and Ada, who did not arrive with any intent to be dogooders, is of much more value than that of Mrs. Pardiggle, who came as a dedicated dogooder, but is there more to take from this episode?

Richard is starting to concern us, isn’t he? Partly it’s his slipshod approach to money; will he wind up being another Skimpole? But then also is the question what he is to do with himself. He, of course, is convinced that he need do nothing but wait for the wealth of the Jarndyce fortune to descend upon him, and nothing that John Jarndyce says seems to dissuade him.

And now we meet another wonderful Dickens character, Mr. Boythorn. Quite a character indeed! I hope we see more of him.

And Guppy re-enters the picture. It’s an amusing scene, isn’t it, with Guppy actually proposing to a young woman he has barely met, and our Esther trying to remain polite while taking every possible evasive maneuver.

Another shift of location, back to London and the Court, and our introduction to Mr. Snagsby. Mr. Tulkinghorn is here to inquire about a law writer (do we remember why or how his interest got piqued?), so it’s back to Krook’s and a visit to another boarder of his. And --- but Dickens’s original readers would have to wait another month to find out what he discovered there.


message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Episode 4 consisted of Chapters 11-13.

Now we see what Tulkinghorn found in Krook’s upstairs room. And just who is this Mr. Nemo – no man? Nobody seems to know. Mr. Tulkinghorn’s activities seem a bit suspect, don’t they? Why does he care so much about this dead law writer, whose only friend may have been an uneducated street-sweeper? But the inquest at least brings a bit of entertainment to the local community.

The theme of disease, of illness, seems to be often present, doesn’t it? The miasma of the fog and mire. A court case has which has “stretched forth its unwholesome hand to spoil and corrupt.” Illness and death in the bricklayers house. The madness of Tom Jarndyce. And now Nemo is borne off to a churchyard “pestiferous and obscene, whence malignant diseases are communicated to the bodies of our dear brothers and sisters who have not departed,” enclosed with an iron gate “on which the poisoned air deposits its witch-ointment slimy to the touch.” Yuck!

But away from London and back to Chesney Wold we go, where the rain has ceased and the master and mistress are returning from Paris. Though we see that wealth does not always bring happiness. Lady Dedlock is bored. Bored almost to death. “In the desolation of Boredom and the clutch of Giant Despair.” Weariness of soul lies behind her and before her, because wherever you go, there you are.

Sir Leicester, however, is seldom bored because “he can always contemplate his own greatness.” Could anybody but Dickens have written that?

They are home at last, welcomed by Mrs. Rouncewell and a new addition to the staff, the pretty young Rosa. But Hortense is not happy with a girl who already is receiving the fond attention which Hortense has never enjoyed. What might come of this???

There is a house party at Chesney Wold. All the distinguished circle is there, but something is wrong. What is it?

Well. Eventually Mr. Tulkinghorn arrives, to discuss the litigation against our friend Mr. Boythorne. But Lady Dedlock is able, languidly, to ask about the law writer. Why her interest in this insignificant person?

The house party goes on, but even it cannot defeat Lady Dedlock’s boredom: she “is always the same exhausted deity, surrounded by worshippers, and terribly liable to be bored to death, even while presiding at her own shrine.”

What a contrast with Rosa, who though without wealth, without name, without position, is far happier.

We leave the house party to return to Bleak House and the question what will we do with Richard? Are we getting an idea yet of Richard’s character? And if so, what do we think of it?

Off to London for a week, but who finds out they are there but Guppy! Guppy here, Guppy there, Guppy Guppy everywhere. But for comic relief we meet yet another of Dickens’s wonderful characters in Mrs. Badger.

And now Ada confesses to Esther what we have all suspected for quite awhile, haven’t we? But are we any more enthusiastic about it than JohnJ is? Well, time will tell.

But what is this final paragraph that ends Episode 4, that Dickens expects us to wait another month to get elucidated? Where did this come from, and what does it mean?

“I have omitted to mention in its place that there was some one else at the family dinner party. It was not a lady. It was a gentleman. It was a gentleman of a dark complexion—a young surgeon. He was rather reserved, but I thought him very sensible and agreeable. At least, Ada asked me if I did not, and I said yes.”


message 3: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (ladyperrin) | 269 comments Everyman wrote: "Esther seems to be settling in nicely as housekeeper at Bleak House..."

I recall reading in the posts from week 1 that Esther was believed to be around 19 or 20. However, I feel that it is unlikely that she would have been hired as a companion at such a young age for someone else equally as young. I also question whether she would have been placed in charge of the house if she was that young, as well. I always pictured her as being around 25 or even a bit older.


message 4: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (ladyperrin) | 269 comments Everyman wrote: "...attention of Esther and Ada, who did not arrive with any intent to be dogooders, is of much more value than that of Mrs. Pardiggle, who came as a dedicated dogooder, but is there more to take from this episode? ..."

Mrs. Jellyby and Mrs. Pardiggle, remind me of people who will do outrageous things in the name of doing good. For example, chain themselves to tree in order to prevent it from being cut down. Does that really do any good for the tree? Does it actually stop the loggers from cutting down the tree in the end? Wouldn't there be better more efficient ways to do good? Perhaps they feel that they have to be seen doing good in order to feel that it's worth it to do good. But in reality, it's not that good at all.

I also feel really bad for their children, and I completely agree with the boy who asked why she even bothered to give them an allowance if she just expected them to donate it. I'm willing to bet the children would be happier if they're not given the allowance at all and the money was just donated straight up.


message 5: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (ladyperrin) | 269 comments Everyman wrote: "But what is this final paragraph that ends Episode 4, that Dickens expects us to wait another month to get elucidated? Where did this come from, and what does it mean?
..."


I feel that Dickens put this paragraph here because he wanted to end on a cliff-hanger and so he added this paragraph in order to do so. This feels every contrived. However, I feel that he could have done this better.


message 6: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (ladyperrin) | 269 comments Something that I have noticed is how often birds are mentioned in this book.

Mr. Tulkinghorn is compared to a crow or other black bird quite frequently.

Even when Sir Leicester and my Lady Dedlock arrived in Chesney Wold there was a description of how the birds (rooks) reacted.

Mrs. Flite peeps when they are in the room taking care of Mr. Nemo.


message 7: by Silver (new)

Silver I have to say that I find the Deadlocks, especially Lady Deadlock to be particularly intriguing and I enjoy the chapters which deal with them. Perhaps in part because they are still such a mystery in some ways, as we still do not know just how they are connected to the suit of Jardyce v Jardyce only that it seems to be the only think to spark Lady Deadlock's interest.

The other thing I find interesting about them is their name. I know that Dickens often gives his characters names with double meaning, some of which are quite obvious.

The name Deadlock does also seem to reflect the state of which the case is in as well I could see it referring to her marriage as well. I know in previous chapters it stated that they (or at least Sir Leicester) married for love, but Lady Deadlock certainly doesn't seem very happy, or maybe it is that her life is indeed deadlocked until there might finally be a result in the case to free her.

I do find it amusing how entirely bored she is with everything.


message 8: by Susanna (new)

Susanna | 160 comments Eman wrote:"And Guppy re-enters the picture. It’s an amusing scene, isn’t it,"

But Esther also starts to cry later about the incident and thinks "I was in a flutter for a little while and felt as if an old chord had been more coarsely touched than it ever had been since the days of the dear old doll, long buried in the garden."

I took this to mean that she felt bad about making Mr. Guppy feel unloved, as she had felt unloved when a child.


message 9: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Tiffany wrote: "Mrs. Jellyby and Mrs. Pardiggle, remind me of people who will do outrageous things in the name of doing good. For example, chain themselves to tree in order to prevent it from being cut down...."

Great analogy! Thx, Tiffany! (Somewhere I read that Aristotle or someone like that considered the ability to make vivid metaphors a sign of genius. If anyone knows the source of that .....)


message 10: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 129 comments Tiffany wrote: "Mrs. Jellyby and Mrs. Pardiggle, remind me of people who will do outrageous things in the name of doing good. For example, chain themselves to tree in order to prevent it from being cut down."

I loved your post Tiffany, and as Lily said, it's a great analogy!

It is about this time in the book that I just had to start highlighting passages because they are so deliciously well-said. He describes a veritible whirlwind of tree-hugging, all of them involving a lot of distribution of circulars, meetings, subscription cards: "They appeared to be constantly polling people by the tens of thousands, yet never bringing their candidates in for anything." And then he has Esther give us his priceless, one-sentence introduction to Mrs. Pardiggle: "Among the ladies who were most distinguished for this rapacious benevolence...was Mrs. Pardiggle".

Rapacious benevolence - isn't that perfect?



message 11: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 129 comments Tiffany wrote: "Something that I have noticed is how often birds are mentioned in this book.

Mr. Tulkinghorn is compared to a crow or other black bird quite frequently.

Even when Sir Leicester and my Lady Dedlo..."


Tiffany, I'm really enjoying your posts so much. When I was rereading this section last night, I had the same thought. There are Miss Flite's birds, which have a symbolic significance to her, and therefore to us. Crows, ravens, blackbirds - they all seem to find their way into books to add to an atmosphere of foreboding, dread, a curse. Mr. Tulkinghorn has an air of quiet, emotionless menace. And he even looks like a crow. His reappearance in Chapter 10 is even introduced by the description of a crow flying over the Chancery, into Lincoln Fields, which is where Tulkinghorn resides and works. And, like magic, there he is: "an oyster of the old school, whom nobody can open". He is "a great reservoir of confidences".

But by far my favorite use of a bird to describe a character is Mr. Boythorn's little canary. As Esther says: "To hear Mr. Boythorn presently expressing the most implacable and passionate sentiments, with this fragile mite of a creature quietly perched on his forehead, was to have a good illustration of his character, I thought."


message 12: by Lily (last edited Jul 30, 2014 02:03PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Speaking of the symbolic significance of the birds, this note is from Nabokov's lecture notes for Bleak House:

"Miss Flite's birds, we should notice, finally, are larks, linnets, and goldfinches, which correspond to lark-youth, linnet-hope, goldfinch-beauty."

I haven't checked where those particular birds are named. [1] Given the popularity and reputation of Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch this year, the list caught my eye. (I had just finished it.)

[1] Ah! the joys of having an ebook! The types of Miss Flite's birds are here:

"There were larks, linnets, and goldfinches— I should think at least twenty."

Dickens, Charles (2012-05-16). Bleak House. (p. 48.) Kindle Edition.


message 13: by Paula (last edited Jul 30, 2014 01:19PM) (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 129 comments Here's a random little tidbit, just one of those many threads Dickens is weaving into the fabric of his story.

In Chapter 5, when Miss Flite introduces Richard & Ada as suitors in Jarndyce v. Jardyce, Krook says: "Yes. There was the name of Barbary, and the name of Clare, and the name of Dedlock, too, I think."

Then, in Chapter 9, we find out that "Mr. Jarndyce had written to a relation of the family, a great Sir Leicester Dedlock..."

So, in addition to Ada (Clare) and Richard (Carstone), we now have the Dedlocks. And lastly: Barbary. Which is the last name of Esther's godmother.

All so interesting.


message 14: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 129 comments I was going to ask where the lectures can be found, but I did a google search and found the book. Placing an order for it right now :). Thanks for the reference!


message 15: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 129 comments Another quote worthy of underlining, again, showing how Dickens could perfectly capture a character with one sentence. Here, speaking of Hortense, Lady Dedlock's maid: "she has a watchful way of looking out of the corners of her eyes without turning her head, which could pleasantly be dispensed with--especially when she is in an ill-humour and near knives."

With that kind of description, you know this won't be the last time we cross paths with Hortense. Clearly a troubling person, but this passage makes me laugh every time I read it!


message 16: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 129 comments Ok, you can laugh at me for being a sentimental softie, but does anyone else get teary-eyed over Jo and the loss he felt when Nemo died? When, after Nemo was buried and everyone had gone, Jo came, stared through the bars of the cemetery gate for a long while and then carefully swept the stoop so that it was as neat and tidy as he could make it? And then looked in again? This poor boy who has lost the only person who was kind to him? Heartbreaking.

On a related note, for Bronte readers, did anyone think of them when Dickens described how these types of burial grounds, with their decomposing bodies, poisoned the living? The Brontes lived down the hillside from such a burial ground and the very water they drank was polluted. Horrible...ghastly to even think about.


message 17: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Paula wrote: "The Brontes lived down the hillside from such a burial ground and the very water they drank was polluted. Horrible...ghastly to even think about...."

A la Paris and its charnel houses, eventually its catacombs. http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/hom...


message 18: by Lily (last edited Jul 31, 2014 06:45AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments @16 Paula wrote: "This poor boy who has lost the only person who was kind to him? Heartbreaking...."

Part of why I so much prefer the 1853 frontispiece and title page.


message 19: by Lily (last edited Jul 30, 2014 07:47PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Paula wrote: "I was going to ask where the lectures can be found, but I did a google search and found the book. Placing an order for it right now :). Thanks for the reference!"

Enjoy! Even though I have all three volumes of lectures (Literature, Russian, Don Quixote) in paperback, I checked out the local library copy yesterday because I know the larger format does much better justice for the illustrations of Nabokov's notes and drawings. (My favorite is actually his comments on Anna Karenina, but of course. I also have his commentary -- and translation, of Eugene Onegin), despite the somewhat justifiable views of Wilson; and they are also favorites of mine.)


message 20: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 129 comments Lily wrote: "Lily wrote: "This poor boy who has lost the only person who was kind to him? Heartbreaking...."

Part of why I so much prefer the 1853 frontispiece and title page."


I heartily agree. Btw, I ordered the book of lectures, but I had to have the one on Russian literature as well. I need more shelves...


message 21: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Paula wrote: "...Btw, I ordered the book of lectures, but I had to have the one on Russian literature as well...."

I don't think you will be sorry. For AK, enjoy the comments on her relationship to the Russian people -- and the little red velvet purse that grows and shrinks a la Alice (in Wonderland).


message 22: by Silver (new)

Silver Laurele wrote:
I don't think we've met Jo yet, have we? "


I believe he first appears in Chapter 11 "Our Dear Brother"


message 23: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (ladyperrin) | 269 comments Paula wrote: "Ok, you can laugh at me for being a sentimental softie, but does anyone else get teary-eyed over Jo and the loss he felt when Nemo died? When, after Nemo was buried and everyone had gone, Jo came, ..."

Yes! I almost cried in the graveyard scene!


message 24: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments @20 Paula wrote: "Lily wrote: "Paula wrote: "This poor boy who has lost the only person who was kind to him? Heartbreaking...."

Should be as above. Don't know why it came out wrong @ my 18. I have corrected it, too.


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Tiffany wrote: "I recall reading in the posts from week 1 that Esther was believed to be around 19 or 20. However, I feel that it is unlikely that she would have been hired as a companion at such a young age for someone else equally as young."

I think the 19 or 20 is pretty close. We are told in Chapter 3 that she was "almost fourteen" when her godmother died. She then went to school at Greenleaf in Reading, where (still in Chapter 3) "I passed at Greenleaf six happy, quiet years." So that would make her either shortly before or after her nineteenth birthday.

But people at that time took responsibility much earlier than they do today. Young boys could enter the army as drummer boys at about age 12, and young men entered the navy as Midshipmen usually at age 12-14, and became lieutenants around age 19. http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/s...
Apprentices would generally enter into their indentures around age 14, if not earlier, when they would start work full time, and would generally become journeymen in about 5-7 years, depending on the craft.

So it was not at all unusual for a 19 or 20 year old at that time to carry considerable responsibility, so I don't think it's at all unreasonable for Esther to have been given the responsibility for the housekeeping and companionship of Ada at that age. (She was plenty old enough to be a school teacher, after all.)

Things have changed since then, of course, and in modern terms I think you would be right that she would be considered young for that responsibility. But not, I think, in the 1850s.

So a 19 or 20 year old could be expected


message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Tiffany wrote: "Something that I have noticed is how often birds are mentioned in this book."

Good point. And as we have mentioned before, Esther has a bird when she leaves home, and of course Flite's birds. (I hadn't noticed before her name as so close to flight.)


message 27: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Susanna wrote: "But Esther also starts to cry later about the incident [with Guppy] and thinks "I was in a flutter for a little while and felt as if an old chord had been more coarsely touched than it ever had been since the days of the dear old doll, long buried in the garden."

I took this to mean that she felt bad about making Mr. Guppy feel unloved, as she had felt unloved when a child. "


Interesting observation. I had wondered what she was referring to. I think you may have it. Do others agree, or are there other interpretations of that for us to consider?


message 28: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Paula wrote: "But by far my favorite use of a bird to describe a character is Mr. Boythorn's little canary. As Esther says: "To hear Mr. Boythorn presently expressing the most implacable and passionate sentiments, with this fragile mite of a creature quietly perched on his forehead, was to have a good illustration of his character, I thought."
"


I also loved that. What a good way to show that Boythorn is much more bark than bite. The bird isn't the least bit disturbed by his enthusiastic invective.


message 29: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Paula wrote: "In Chapter 5, when Miss Flite introduces Richard & Ada as suitors in Jarndyce v. Jardyce, Krook says: "Yes. There was the name of Barbary, and the name of Clare, and the name of Dedlock, too, I think." "

And isn't it interesting that it is the illiterate Krook who first links some of these names to the suit for us, and who houses at least two people who are directly related to the court system, if not to this particular suit.


message 30: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Here's another bird:

"Mr. Snagsby standing at his shop-door looking up at the clouds sees a crow who is out late skim westward over the slice of sky belonging to Cook's Court. The crow flies straight across Chancery Lane and Lincoln's Inn Garden into Lincoln's Inn Fields. Here, in a large house, formerly a house of state, lives Mr. Tulkinghorn. ..."

"Mr. Tulkinghorn goes, as the crow came—not quite so straight, but nearly—to Cook's Court, Cursitor Street. To Snagsby's, Law-Stationer's, Deeds engrossed and copied, Law-Writing executed in all its branches, &c., &c., &c."


message 31: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Paula wrote: "Ok, you can laugh at me for being a sentimental softie, but does anyone else get teary-eyed over Jo and the loss he felt when Nemo died?"

Not only is Jo a tragic figure, but in some senses he is also as noble as anybody else there. Lady Dedlock with all her wealth and prestige doesn't have, as far as we can tell, as close a friendship with anybody as poor Jo had with Nemo. He, it seems to me, does much better with what life allows him than she does.

Indeed, except for John Jarndyce and maybe Boythorn, isn't it the case that the poor (monetarily) people in the book are in many ways better people than the wealthy? Esther, Jo, Miss Flite, none of them has more than a few shillings to their names, but don't you prefer their company to that of the Dedlocks, Tulkinghorn, Krook, and the shiver of lawyers in the Court of Chancery?

[I had to look up the collective name for sharks in order to suggest that classic connection between lawyers and sharks, and found to my delight that it's sometimes called a shiver of sharks. Isn't that wonderful???]


message 32: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments One interesting, perhaps, point about the dual narrative (third person omniscient vs. first person) is that Esther's narrative is all in the past tense -- that is, she knows what is going to happen and is feeding us with those aspects she thinks, for whatever reason or purpose she is writing, will be interesting or beneficial for us. But the third person narrator is writing in the present tense, telling us how things are going along at the moment they are happening.

I'm finding this shift of focus and time to be quite interesting.


message 33: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Everyman wrote: "Paula wrote: "Ok, you can laugh at me for being a sentimental softie, but does anyone else get teary-eyed over Jo and the loss he felt when Nemo died?"

Not only is Jo a tragic figure, but in some ..."


There's that shiftless wife-beating slob, the heartless father of the baby that dies.


message 34: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Roger wrote: "There's that shiftless wife-beating slob, the heartless father of the baby that dies. "

Okay. Point taken.


message 35: by Zippy (new)

Zippy | 155 comments I really enjoyed the collection of dandies at the Deadlock place. I could practically see the Botox and boob jobs! But I wasn't sure about the significance of the people mentioned after the paragraph on "religion," as it were.

" There are also ladies and gentlemen of another fashion, not so new, but very elegant, who have agreed to put a smooth glaze on the world and to keep down all its realities. For whom everything must be languid and pretty. Who have found out the perpetual stoppage."


message 36: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (ladyperrin) | 269 comments Something else I've been noticing that I wanted to point out was how often the houses feel like they are alive.

Here are some examples [taken from the free Kindle Edition]:

"She believes the little drawing-room upstairs, always kept, as one may say, with its hair in papers and its pinafore on, to be the most elegant..." p. 112

"...with the gaunt eyes in the shutters staring down upon the bed." p. 119

and again with the shutters: "...where they leave the great eyes in the shutter something new to stare at,..." p. 126

"With houses looking on, on every side, save where a reeking little tunnel of a court give access..." p. 131

"...as the Ghost's walk... resigns itself to coming night..." p. 135

"...with a complaining flag-staff over his head..." p. 140

I realise all of my examples come from Wk 2's readings but if I had the time I'm sure I could find more if I went back over Wk 1's readings.


message 37: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (ladyperrin) | 269 comments Zippy wrote: "I really enjoyed the collection of dandies at the Deadlock place. I could practically see the Botox and boob jobs! But I wasn't sure about the significance of the people mentioned ..."

I also thought the people at the Dedlock place quite interesting as well, particularly when describes the politicians as Buffy, Cuffy, Duffy, Fuffy (which I originally read as Fluffy), Guffy, etc. It feels like Dickens is trying to say that in politics you have one leader whom everyone knows his name, e.g. Buffy, and all his followers, whom no one really knows. Kind of like those children's TV shows where you have Henchman #1, Henchman #2, etc. listed in the credits.

@13 Paula wrote: In Chapter 5, when Miss Flite introduces Richard & Ada as suitors in Jarndyce v. Jardyce, Krook says: "Yes. There was the name of Barbary, and the name of Clare, and the name of Dedlock, too, I think."

I noticed that Dickens has a thing for listing names alphabetically, such as in Paula's example, and in the people at Chesney Wold.


message 38: by Lily (last edited Jul 31, 2014 09:48PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Tiffany wrote: "I noticed that Dickens has a thing for listing names alphabetically, such as in Paula's example, and in the people at Chesney Wold...."

Neat observation! Thx, Tiffany. Also, Buffy, Cuffy, Duffy, Fuffy....

Dickens uses so much alliteration, I am surprised he didn't claim a "shiver of sharks"!


message 39: by Paula (last edited Aug 01, 2014 01:09PM) (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 129 comments Lily, thank you so much for the recommendation of Nabokov's Lectures on Literature.

I just opened the book and read the first page of his lecture on Bleak House:

"We are now ready to tackle Dickens. We are now ready to embrace Dickens. We are now ready to bask in Dickens."

Then some pithy comments about Jane Austen, and then:

"With Dickens we expand." ... "We just surrender ourselves to Dicken's voice." ... "If it were possible I would like to devote the fifty minutes of every class meeting to mute meditation, concentration, and admiration of Dickens."

Yes, Yes, Yes.


message 40: by Lily (last edited Aug 01, 2014 02:37PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Paula wrote: "Yes, Yes, Yes. ..."

Grin! There is much in those pages to enjoy. Hope you can help bring some of its fun observations to the group. (Even though N doesn't like Austen, he can be a giggle to read about her -- as well as provocative. Interestingly, Mansfield Park, not Emma, was his choice for his course.)

Paula, if your library has a Norton Edition of Bleak House, you might also enjoy getting your hands on it. I have our library copy, haven't spent much time with it yet; it may be an older edition (Norton does revise some volumes in its classics series from time to time), but any edition is likely to have the informative footnotes I spot in this copy, along with the additional critical reviews and supplementary information following the text. One article suggests the person(s) upon whom Dickens is believed to have drawn to create his characters.


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Tiffany wrote: "Something else I've been noticing that I wanted to point out was how often the houses feel like they are alive."

Nice observation and quotations.

That's one neat thing about Dickens -- there are many little touches which it's easy to glide over as one focuses on the action, but which when you stop to examine them with care are really neat.

It's much like a flower or fern -- one can observe it from a normal viewing distance and take in the beauty, color, and overall outlines with enjoyment, but when one takes the time to examine it closely, up close and personal, as it were, preferably with a magnifying glass, some astonishing details emerge which normally are just incorporated without real notice as part of the overall view.


message 42: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments Paula wrote: "Ok, you can laugh at me for being a sentimental softie, but does anyone else get teary-eyed over Jo and the loss he felt when Nemo died? When, after Nemo was buried and everyone had gone, Jo came, ..."

Paula, I cannot laugh at you because I had the same reaction when the baby died. It was so shocking, I was not expecting it. So sad. :-(


message 43: by Todd (new)

Todd Glaeser | 21 comments Everyman wrote: Indeed, except for John Jarndyce and maybe Boythorn, isn't it the case that the poor (monetarily) people in the book are in many ways better people than the wealthy? Esther, Jo, Miss Flite, none of them has more than a few shillings to their names, but don't you prefer their company to that of the Dedlocks, Tulkinghorn, Krook, and the shiver of lawyers in the Court of Chancery?"

The talk of birds and this paragraph put in in mind of this passage from the Book of Matthew Chapter 10

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.


message 44: by Todd (new)

Todd Glaeser | 21 comments And this from Matthew Chapter 6

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.


message 45: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments One thing that has stood out to me in this second week is it seems to me that Dickens really enjoys comparing/contrasting his characters. Mrs. Pardiggle and Mrs. Jellyby are both philanthropists (I use the term losely). Mrs. pardiggle close to home, Mrs. Jellyby in Africa. Mrs. Jellyby completely neglects her family, Mrs. Pardiggle microscopically manages her's. Interestingly, Mrs. Pardiggle is disparaging of Mrs. Jellyby's ways of involving herself in charity and neglecting her family. However, she has more in common with Mrs. Jellyby than she may like, for they both completely disregard members of their families, though in very different ways. They are opposites, but the same.

Then there are Mr. Jarndyce's friends, Skimpole and Boythorn. Both strike me boisterous and energetic, but where Skimpole is opportunistic and selfish, Boythorn is considerate and ready to defend the defenseless.


message 46: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments Tiffany wrote: "Everyman wrote: "But what is this final paragraph that ends Episode 4, that Dickens expects us to wait another month to get elucidated? Where did this come from, and what does it mean?
..."

I feel..."


I had the same reaction, Tiffany. It was abrupt and tacked on. In short, as you said, contrived. :-)


message 47: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments Tiffany wrote: "Something else I've been noticing that I wanted to point out was how often the houses feel like they are alive.

Here are some examples [taken from the free Kindle Edition]:

"She believes the litt..."


I had not noticed this! Cool observation. :-)


message 48: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Todd wrote: "And this from Matthew Chapter 6

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life ..."


Todd, I think you are onto something with the quotes from Matthew. If only Richard could get hold of these verses! They could well be a theme of the book.


message 49: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Genni wrote: "One thing that has stood out to me in this second week is it seems to me that Dickens really enjoys comparing/contrasting his characters. Mrs. Pardiggle and Mrs. Jellyby are both philanthropists (I..."

Good find, Genni. This book seems to be full of doubling and tripling. I've been noticing the same thing in a Trollope book I am reading as a serial alongside "Bleak House"--the wonderful "The Way We Live Now." I think it adds richness to the narrative, and certainly much food for thought.


message 50: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Genni wrote: "Tiffany wrote: "Everyman wrote: "But what is this final paragraph that ends Episode 4, that Dickens expects us to wait another month to get elucidated? Where did this come from, and what does it me..."

I think Esther's shy little mention of the dark-skinned guest is perfectly in keeping with her character, and it certainly gives us something to look for and look forward to.


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