Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The 2nd Round of Davic Copperfield Discussions -- Wednesday Night edition

We had around 45 readers discussing chapters 19-39 if of Charles Dickens's novel David Copperfield on Wednesday night. We will have discussions on Thursday, July 27 at 3pm and Friday, July 28 at noon.
A giant thank you to Dr. Miriam Bailin from Washington University for leading this month's discussion!

Our Discussion:
  • Parents and children:
    • David and his mother
    • Steerforth and his mother 
    • Mr. Peggotty and Lil Emily (and Ham)
    • Uriah Heep and Mrs. Heep
  • Younger Women and Older Men:
    • Wickfield and Agnes
    • Doctor Strong and Annie
    • Mr. Peggotty and Emily
    • Murdstone and Clara
  • Dickens and disability:
    • Mr. Dick is treated well as a character despite his mental illness
    • Miss Mowcher is an admirable character despite her size (or becomes a better character when Dickens feared a lawsuit)
    • Uriah is not disabled, his physicality expresses his inner character
  • Characters who cannot let go of the past:
    • Mr. Dick
    • Rosa Dartle and her thwarted love for Steerforth
    • Wickfield and his late wife
  • Pairings of Opposites:
    • David and Uriah (see also King David and Uriah the Hittite vying for Bathsheba)
    • James Steerforth and Tommy Traddles
    • Dora and Agnes
    • David and Tommy Traddles
  • The few first-person novels of the nineteenth century:
    • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    • David Copperfield by Dickens
    • Alton Locke by Charles Kingsley
    • Great Expectations by Dickens
Why is David attracted to Dora?
Why did Steerforth attend Creakles' school?
What do we think of David's continued love of Steerforth? Why isn't he angry?

Other points:
Tommy is willing to wait forever for Sophie, David is in a hurry to marry.
Class resentment and gender resentment are big in Dickens.
Academics didn't touch Dickens in the 1940s.
Dickens (and Thackery) changed the course of novels during serialization due to sales. Responsive to the public.

Recommended books on Dickens, especially with good Copperfield parts:

  • J. Hillis Miller Charles Dickens: The World of His Novel
  • Q. D. Leavis book Dickens the Novelist
  • Robin Gilmour The Companion to David Copperfield
  • Michael Slater's Charles Dickens

Other favorite Dickens novels from our attendees:
The Pickwick Papers
Our Mutual Friend
Bleak House

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