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Langley, BC, Canada
I love to read. I love books. I like to talk about books and recommend them. I read everything including cereal boxes and junk mail! I heard once that if you're not reading at least 3 books at a time you're not reading enough! This blog will keep track of the books I've read and whether or not I liked them. It will be a little bit of everything from Christian fiction to Science fiction and fantasy. Feel free to participate by suggesting books to review and giving your comments. Occasionally I am given free books by Publishers in exchange for a review. I am not told how to review them or compensated in any way for the review.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Charles Dickens by G.K. Chesterton

I’m not really a fan of biographies but am trying to broaden my reading and thought that understanding ore about Dickens would help me to understand and enjoy his novels more. (Please note that I will be quoting some of the book but as I read this on my Kindle stating pages is problematic so I won’t be able to do a true footnote.)
Chesterton is an early 20th Century writer who wrote on a wide variety of subjects including theology.  He also wrote mysteries and fantasy stories.  There are a lot of biographers of Dickens but I thoroughly enjoyed Chesterton’s style and his take on what made Dickens tick.
The book starts out with a lengthy discourse on what makes a person or thing “great” in the eyes of society.  Chesterton doesn’t really define it although he tries but in the end he says, whatever greatness is, Dickens was great.  The fun of reading anything by Chesterton is that he is so quotable.  For instance during the discussion about greatness he writes “Every man was waiting for a leader.  Every man ought to be waiting for a chance to lead”.  He also says of the time that Dickens lived that “It was a world that encouraged anybody to be anything.  And in England and literature its living expression was Dickens.”
Another quotable quote from Chesterton on the troubles during Dickens’ early years “Circumstances break men’s bones; it has never been shown that they break men’s optimism.”  Chesterton paints Dickens as an optimistic, exuberant person who infused his novels with these characteristics. He also tended to wear his heart on his sleeve.  He felt things keenly and was very sensitive and did not generally take criticism well.
Chesterton does a very thorough job of characterizing Dickens as well as critiquing his books.  It was a bit hard to follow some of his thoughts as he talks a lot about British politics and literary people of that age that I’m not particularly familiar with.  However I think it was worth reading and is a great review of Dickens in context.  If you’re interested in a biography of Dickens I highly recommend this one.