Monday, August 28, 2017

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Another Great Summer of Reading at U City Library!

Just a few of the many points made in our discussions last week:

On David...

more discussion of the parallel between Uriah and David

not much narrative arc; just the rise of David, plus incidents

David is a surprisingly passive figure

the self-made is a new kind of victorian person

self-made man? - David didn't make it on his own - C Nicole Mason says explicitly that she had some luck and help

How old was David when he marries Agnes?

young David Copperfield is sort of like Harry Potter

a reader identified with Pip from Great Expectations and Oliver Twist when he read those as a young man - didn't have the same reaction to David - the character was a cipher

On Dora...

most troubling line for Miriam - it's better as it is (Dora, about her own death) - this allows David to be off the hook
Dora's loss of a child is described in one line and it's very obscure: I had hoped that lighter hands than mine...p 704 ch 48

No real explanation for Dora's decline - she needs to die

Pregnancy was the one taboo in victorian fiction

Dora is inadequate to what a professional man needs - what kind of partnership is required of women for this 'new victorian man'

reader: Dora is at least real, Agnes is not real

So many characters die - even Jip - so sentimental - it's almost comical, but people at the time wept over that

was anyone else surprised that he married Dora?

what would have happened if Dora had survived?

Other Characters...

Betsey points out - you know I never realized how much work goes into being an author

Betsey didn't stay with her husband, but she didn't divorce him

Character Littimer: character has no reason for being as despicable as he is - he exists in relation to steerforth = what does steerforth need to carry out his designs - very one-dimensional

Subplots:  Annie and Dr Strong,

Rosa Dartle - she turns on Mrs Steerforth and Emily - what is the source of her rage

Rosa is more tragic than evil

The Murdstones are never punished

Traddles' Sophy - another miracle woman

Why can Martha remarry but not Emily?  Dickens wants to save Emily as someone we can admire and look up to - she is divided from 'real' prostitutes

Traddles character - shows virtue of restraint, hard steady work

Micawber - a stretch that he turned out so successful

Uriah lost his Cockney accent during the period when he was confronted by David et al., picked up again in prison

Was Ham's body recovered after drowning? confusing to figure out this scene - why does David devote himself to Steerforth's body rather than Ham's?

Ham is the son of Noah.  Dickens loves boats that are shipshape

Mr. Dick - purely virtuous - precursor of Forrest Gump

Mr Dick - is the implication that in order to be truly good, having an intellect is a hindrance - he is so good, and supposed to be of limited intellect

Mr Dick - (Dixon per Micawber) - connection to Dickens' name

Steerforth had ambiguity, he did some good

General Points...

Women:  Fallen women, fallen angels, women are the motive force here.  David is saved by Betsey and her money; Agnes of course, always pointing upwards, many consequential women

emigration to Australia is a common piece of Victorian fiction

every episode has its own dramatic peak and then fades away

only people of color in DC - Julia Mills comes back from Australia with a servant who was a woman of color

Notion of respectability - the word is repeated many times in connection with Littimer

the prison scene is startling - who are these perfect inmates?  Uriah and Littimer - Dickens was interested in prison reform - is Dickens questioning the possibility of reform?   He felt that the system was soul crushing, esp. solitary confinement.  Who was successful in the system?  Those two know what to do, how to grease the wheels

drowning is a central metaphor - the caul is supposed to save a sailor from drowning - it's significant that steerforth

Dickens always talks about cleanliness, not just in DC

Uranus house - a charity Dickens started with philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts - it was a home for homeless women (prostitutes)

significance of place in the novel - yarmouth vs canterbury - canterbury is a cathedral town - Agnes is in the cathedral town - Uriah is the worm who destroys the sanctified place

Yarmouth is where the working poor live -DC goes to yarmouth when he needs a break.  But he is the worm who ruins Yarmouth - he introduces Steerforth.

vulnerability of asking for help - David and C. Nicole Mason - (also appears in Hillbilly Elegy)

Was Dickens just getting sick of writing the book when he wrote the prison chapter?

Was fun reading and listening to audio in combo - the reader used great accents, and I heard them when I went back to the text

Is the jail system scene a comment on Jeremy Bentham / utilitarianism /  the Panopticon prison?

The book is an interesting commentary on the status of women, and class distinctions without hitting you over the head with it

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It's our last Wednesday night for the Summer 2017 Big Book discussions. We have around 42 people here for the discussion of David Copperfield. Join us on Thursday at 3pm or on Friday at noon as we wrap up this summer's big read.

Monday, August 21, 2017

More Favorite Quotes!

 From reader Judi:

He had naturally a short throat and I do seriously believe he over starched himself. Page 553

I could not help feeling, though she mingled her tears with mine, that she had a dreadful luxury in our afflictions. She petted them, as I may say, and made the most of them.... we parted, overwhelmed with grief;  and I think Miss Mills enjoyed herself completely. Page 562
What else stands out for you?  Something sad?  Funny?  Significant?