"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Great Expectations, Classics Club spin book, update, the first.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is my Classics Club spin book this go round. My goal is to finish the book by October 23rd, which shouldn't be hard and requires me to only read about 60 pages a week to accomplish it. I am caught up and have exceeded that goal so far. But my second goal to blog about my progress along the way hasn't gone so well. Here I am nearly half way through the book and I am just now posting an update. Ah well. The school year IS just starting...

When I announced my selection, several people posted comments on my blog about their experiences with Great Expectations and I thought it would be fun to respond to them in this format. Here goes...
I think you should enjoy the book. Remember that Charles Dickens published the book in a serialized version before it was published as a complete book. -Spoon, (parapharsed from a comment made by my friend, a college instructor of literature and writing.)
Great Expectations, Dickens' thirteenth novel was first published in weekly installments in his own magazine All the Year Round between December 1860 and August 1861. The last Classics Club spin book I read, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins was also serialized in the Dickens magazine the same way. Apparently sales of his magazine had waned and he decided to rework this novel so it would work in weekly installments with cliff-hangers to keep his readership coming back.  This technique worked and the reading public loved the story and couldn't wait for the next issue of the magazine to read on. Each installment contained two chapters.
I first read Great Expectations at age 14 as an assignment for 9th grade English. When I read it last year - 50 years later - I was struck by two things: (1) how much I actually remembered about the plot and the characters (Pip! Miss Haversham!), and (2) how most of my students in the last few decades would have struggled with the text." - Pam, a retired English teacher
Many people told me they read this book in junior high. Junior high? I suspect that this book would be tremendously difficult to teach today even with high school or college students. Not only are the language and the descriptions difficult to understand but I suspect the humor would fall flat for today's students, too. Two years ago I read Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones about a teacher on a faraway island whose only resource is a well-worn copy of Great Expectations. Even with all the references to Dickens' classic tale, I still didn't understand the connections between the two.  
"We just finished Great Expectations as our family read-a-long. It took a while to get into it, but ended up much more enjoyable than I originally expected."-Susan, a fellow blogger
What a wonderful idea. I wish, looking back, we had tackled more of the classics together as a family. Last year my husband and I listened to One Hundred Years of Solitude together and it was a memorable experience. I read The Borrowers to my children, and of course, The Chronicles of Narnia, but never one of the adult classics.
"I tried reading Great Expectations recently and couldn't do it. I had to put it down at about 40% and I haven't gone back and finished it." -a blogger
I am just a little past 40% and I feel your pain. The book is not exactly riveting, at least not the part where I am right now. I am hopeful that it will improve soon, as so many people have told me how much they liked the book when they read it earlier in their life. I want to get to the "good parts" soon.
"It has been said nobody ever wrote a perfect novel, except Charles Dickens."- Anonymous
I obviously need help figuring out the perfection in any great novel. Maybe we all do. I can see why English teachers would love teaching this novel. It has so many themes, lots of symbolism, and much to teach about man and society. I just stumbled upon a website that explains how Pip exists in five distinct and separate societies...and I thought it was just Victorian England. Ha! I obviously have a lot of learn. I'm off to read more about this great novel on Shmoop.  I know it isn't very sophisticated of me to admit but I find this website tremendously helpful. (Be gentle with me. I've never had a college level Lit class. Not one!)


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