A year full of Dickens, month one- Thoughts on Bleak House

This month I picked Bleak House for the Dickensian work I would read to celebrate his bicentenary. I had already read Bleak House during a graduate seminar on Dickens that I took several years ago and Bleak House is my favorite of the seven works of his that I have read. My friend Ellen, my awesome friend who has her own blog A Curious Magic has boldly decided to read along with me this year. I am sure she isn’t happy that her copy of BH was 1,000 pages to the 787 in my Norton but that’s okay!

I love, love, love the complexity and tightly woven plot that is Bleak House. I love all the characters and how they are interwoven with each other. Esther has and probably always will annoy me, though I pity her for most of the novel. My favorite character in the novel has to be Lady Honoria Dedlock. She is actually why I refer to myself as Lady Bellicose. I love her back story, her rich but empty life, her secret, everything about her intrigues me. My seminar paper was a treatise of Lady Dedlock as a tragic hero. Sadly, there is not a lot of research out there about Lady Dedlock, but I hope to add some of my own soon. Part of my reason in re-reading Bleak House was to prepare myself for an article of literary criticism that I have been meaning to write for nearly two years. Perhaps 2012 is the year I write it!

If you want a complex, engrossing, and shocking read, Bleak House is the novel for you. Dickens is a master of portraying a wide slice of the socioeconomic picture of Victorian England and with the massive plotlines and characters in this novel, you get a wide berth of what all sectors of society were like at this time.

I recently stumbled up a set of Dickens works with covers designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, you know how I am obsessed with her cloth-bound editions of classic books! This set of the “Major Works of Charles Dickens” is breathtaking and a must have for your library!

Check out the set here: The Major Works of Charles Dickens

I would like to announce that I have already chosen the selection for the month of February. I let Ellen decide since I picked the novel for January. She has chosen Oliver Twist. I also read that during my Dickens graduate seminar and am very excited to read it again. Though nothing can take the special place in my heart that Bleak House occupies.

Will you be reading Oliver Twist with me in February? Happy Reading!


One thought on “A year full of Dickens, month one- Thoughts on Bleak House

  1. Ellen says:

    I feel so torn on Bleak House. In terms of structure and complexity I was kind of blown away, but I really struggled to connect to a lot of these characters and often found myself wading in thick mud trying to get through those 1000 pages. I really, really wanted to love it because you did, but I guess that is the magic of literature – each book whispers to each of us so differently. I wonder if there is a difference in appreciation when studying it in an academic setting? Maybe I’ll come back to it again at the end of our year and read it at a more leisurely pace after having spent a lot more time with our Charles!

    Now Oliver Twist, on the other hand, kind of left me breathless!

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