Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Reading Assignment: David Copperfield

If you've ever thought to yourself, "I would like to read the great classics of literature, but I don't know where to start," David Copperfield is a good choice.  It's probably the most readable of all of Dickens' novels.  The story is engrossing from beginning to end, and doesn't feel like medicine, unlike some other classics *cough* Faulkner *cough*.  Dickens was a master at mingling humor and tragedy.  The little comic details, such as Dora's ridiculous Chinese dog house, are pure genius. I read this in college, and reread it for the fifty classics project.

David Copperfield is one of Dickens' autobiographical novels. (Great Expectations is the other.)  It follows David's life from birth through the beginning of his second marriage.  Cruelly treated by a stepfather, he's sent to fend for himself in a factory after his mother dies and his adventures carry on from there.  Side plots include the absorbing story of "Little Em'ly," the misfortunes of the Micawber family, and the machinations of Uriah Heep, one of the great villains of history. The one theme that is repeated in almost every storyline is foolish marriages.  David, his mother, his aunt Betsey Trotwood, and "Little Em'ly" (in a sense--she didn't actually marry) all fall victim to marrying out of impulsive passion.  Another character, Aimee Strong, is diverted from marrying her first sweetheart, although he causes her misery for a long time after her marriage to a sensible older man.  Dickens' own marriage was unhappy.  He was young when he wrote David Copperfield, but he must have already been bitterly regretting his choice.

I believe this is one of the illustrations from the original edition.
It depicts David and Dora's domestic unhappiness.

There's also a fantastic movie starring the great Maggie Smith, and Daniel Radcliffe in his pre-Harry Potter days who plays David Copperfield as a child.  Nicholas Lyndhurst, who plays Uriah Heep is perfect.  I highly recommend it.

Uriah Heep

Ciaran McMenamin as David Copperfield

1 comment:

  1. You make it sound as if I could actually get through this one. Maybe I'll give it a try. We have been spending quite a bit of time at the library this summer, although I tend to stick to the new nonfiction shelves. So far I've read a Salinger biography, the Nora Ephron collection as well as the book about the wealthy woman who spent the last 20 years of her life living in a hospital in NYC. Currently I'm reading the latest David Sedaris which really is laugh out loud funny.