View Full Version : Dickens - Our Mutual Friend and the weaving of the pattern

06-19-2011, 02:33 PM
i just finished reading this (it's a good 'un, and that's the end of my review), and the postscript, partially quoted here, made me think very much of the wheel of time, and of places like theoryland.

(oh, and major spoiler ahead, even if it has been in public domain for 46 years)

"When I devised this story, I foresaw the likelihood that a class of readers and commentators would suppose that I was at great pains to conceal exactly what I was at great pains to suggest: namely, that Mr John Harmon was not slain, and that Mr John Rokesmith was he. Pleasing myself with the idea that the supposition might in part arise out of some ingenuity in the story, and thinking it
worth while, in the interests of art, to hint to an audience that an artist (of whatever denomination) may perhaps be trusted to know
what he is about in his vocation, if they will concede him a little patience, I was not alarmed by the anticipation.

"To keep for a long time unsuspected, yet always working itself out, another purpose originating in that leading incident, and turning it
to a pleasant and useful account at last, was at once the most interesting and the most difficult part of my design. Its difficulty was much enhanced by the mode of publication; for, it would be very unreasonable to expect that many readers, pursuing a story in portions from month to month through nineteen months, will, until they have it before them complete, perceive the relations of its finer threads to the whole pattern which is always before the eyes of the story-weaver at his loom. . . ."

that is all. thanks for listening.

06-22-2011, 03:05 AM
I have read a lot of the 'classics' yet for some reason always find Dickens impenetrable. Don't know why as I have even read and finished a James Joyce novel (not Finnegan's Wake though:) ).

06-27-2011, 07:50 AM
Remember that when Dickens wrote the stories, they were not standalone novels, they were chapters serialised in monthly periodicals. And that he was paid by the word - which explains why they are so long.

RJ said that Dickens was one of his favourite authors...he probably knew the quote.

Dickens was in some ways, the first thriller writer, but what set him apart was his social commentary about poverty in a country about one hundred years into industrialisation in Britain. Ok, he wasn't the only social commentator, Elizabeth Gaskell was probably more infamous in this regard but what differentiated him from them was his prose, his prolific writing and his plots.

10-06-2011, 01:30 PM
I haven't read 'Our Mutual Friend,' but I have read quite a bit of Dickens. I find him very entertaining and engaging to read. I'm not sure if you are aware of this or not, but 'Our Mutual Friend' was the book in the show LOST (I'm a LOSTie) that Desmond Hume brought with him into prison. It was "the only book by Dickens that he hadn't read." He was saving it, because it was the last book he intended to read before he died.

I am inclined to follow a similar vein. I plan on 'Our Mutual Friend' being the last book I read before I die. However, life is full of uncertainty, so there is no way to be sure that I will actually get around to reading it before I die.

This poses a bit of a conundrum. I could get struck by a lightning bolt, an airplane could crash into my house, or I could die in a car accident before reading 'Our Mutual Friend.'

I should probably read it soon, before it's too late. lol ;p