10 October 2013

Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Trade paperback, 514 pages
Published 2003 (originally 1860-61)

Acquired and read September 2013
Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens

For a Victorianist, I'm woefully deficient on my Dickens, so I was glad to read this novel. Even gladder because it's supplanted Our Mutual Friend as my favorite Dickens novel; the first person does Dickens a lot of favors, keeping him focused, but the play between Future Pip and Past Pip is well done; you like him even when he's an idiot. I think I've seen three adaptations of this (one starred Michael York and another was on Wishbone!) and even read Jack Maggs (it was unintelligible), so I knew the plot going in-- hence it was the characters that delighted, such as Jaggers and Wemmick, but most especially Joe, and Pip's relationship with him. I don't remember getting a sense of it in any of the adaptations, but it's the real center of this novel.

The last few chapters, as Pip's world is destroyed and recreated in a much more meager form, is one of the best depictions of growing up I've ever read.

"I often wondered how I had conceived that old idea of his inaptitude, until I was one day enlightened by the reflection, that perhaps the inaptitude had never been in him at all, but had been in me."

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