Bleak HouseBleak House by Charles Dickens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

<—–i didn’t read that version. i listened to the audiobook.

i really have no idea how many times i’ve ingested this book. and it gets better every time.

i really don’t know of that many authors whose books i can read and know that behind them lies a great, great heart. a heart full of love for at least a lot of different stripes of humanity–for poor but decent people, for the uneducated but not stupid, for people who try to do the right thing for others, not just for themselves. reading Dickens is always all about love, for me.

a lot of people say that his works are blatantly sentimental, etc etc. i don’t really find that to be true–he guts far too many of the venal, the selfish, the power-mad, and the greedy on his thoroughly barbed satire for that.

those characters he’s not busy satirizing do get a lot of rosy light. but really, is it not possible to believe that someone like Esther Summerson might exist? that a person might choose to try always to be brave, gentle, kind, and of help and comfort to others? i sometimes wonder if it isn’t a serious failure of imagination in our times, that such a person seems so thoroughly unbelievable. i rather think it says more about us than about Dickens’ writing.

or at least, i would rather believe that people like that do exist than otherwise. bleak, indeed, if the world could never contain an Esther Summerson.

Dickens, Vonnegut, and Twain: my own personal pantheon of the finest satire done with love.

i listened to the audiobook version (Simon Vance, of course, whose voice is getting as familiar to me as an uncle’s, i swear). what a fabulous job. i will never read the print book without hearing his version of George’s voice, in particular. what a marvelous and fun interpretation of the many characters he’s created in his reading.