26/12/2009

SATURDAY NIGHT CLASSIC READING - CHARLES DICKENS'S GREAT EXPECTATIONS



GREAT EXPECTATIONS is my latest reading among Charles Dickens's novels and it has become my favourite so far. Dickens has the power of making  me smile, laugh, reflect on serious matters,  be astonished at his skillfullness as a story-teller, be moved to tears and all in one story . I read it three years ago in summer and it got me so involved I went on reading at night to know what was going to happen to poor Pip.

Though not considered as autobiographical as David Copperfield, which he had published some ten years earlier, the character of Pip represented a Dickens who had learned some hard lessons in his later life. Especially strong throughout the novel are the concepts of fraternal and romantic love, how society thwarts them, how a man should find them. Dickens had left his wife at that time and there were rumours of an affair with a young actress, Ellen Ternan.


For financial reasons, Dickens had to shorten the novel, making it one of his tighter and better written stories. It was published in serial form, as were all of his novels, and the reader can still see the rhythm of suspense and resolution every couple of chapters that kept all of England waiting for the next issue, and me , as I told you, awake at night.

All in all, Great Expectations is considered the best balanced of all of Dickens' novels, though a controversy still persists over the ending. Dickens had originally written an ending where Pip and Estella never get back together. Many critics, including George Bernard Shaw, believe that this rather depressing ending was more consistent with the overall theme and tone of the novel, which began, continued, and perhaps should have finished with a serious, unhappy note (this is the ending chosen for my Italian edition of the novel).

Nevertheless, Dickens published the ending where all is forgiven and Estella and Pip walk out of the Satis House garden together.


I haven't been able to find and see the BBC adaptation of this novel dating back to 1999 but I'd like to do it as soon as possible. I've only seen an American movie (1998) , loosely based on the novel, with Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft and Robert De Niro,  which transferred the story to nowadays and to the USA.



Now, like every Saturday night, I suggest you listening to some pages of this novel, some of the  most gripping ones, read by a good actor. Our reader tonight is DAN STEVENS. Enjoy Dickens, enjoy Dan's reading .

 

If you want to know more about the plot of  GREAT EXPECTATIONS click here


HAPPY CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS!

6 comments:

M. Gray said...

The only Dickens I've read so far is Tale of Two Cities (and that was only a couple of months ago). I respected it for the first three-quarters then LOVED the last quarter of the book. Great Expectations is on my "to read" list on Goodreads. Glad to know it's one of his tighter novels. You'll have to let us know how you like any of the adaptations.

Bought Age of Innocence today! Will be starting it tonight!!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@MGray
I must admit I've never read a Tale of Two Cities, though I know somehing about it. I've read several "Dickens" but not all them. You are going to read "The Age of Innocence"? I loved it, so much, and Martin Scorsese's movie too. I'm going to start reading Wharton's "The House of Mirth", instead. Hope it is as good! Have a wonderful Sunday!

Avalon said...

I have just recently finished reading Charles Dickens's immortal Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, to my sons and they found it boring. It hurt my feelings. I loved that book as a child. Children now days are so different! My mother loved it as a child, my sisters, and I did too. It is sad this day and age children prefer action and computer graphics over classic reads.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Avalon
I just sympathize with you. Think I usually teach classics to teenagers ... not an easy task. Try to make your children see Walt Disney 's "A Christmas Carol". You may try with the new 3D one, I think they can re-evaluate the story you've read them. Cheers! MG

Maire said...

I haven't read Great Expectations since high school, even though I've read tons of other Dickens books. Maybe I should dig out my old copy and give it a reread this year? This post definitely tempts me with that idea! I remember how scandalous it was when that new version of the movie came out; everyone was mad about the naked lady. I'd like to know which adaptation you like best, as I haven't seen either.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Maire
I have only seen the latest film adaptation (with naked Gwyneth Paltrow)but not yet the BBC adaptation. So I can't compare. I didn't like the film much. Now I'm looking forward to seeing the BBC TV series, I have to get it. I think that's much better. Btw, I think to dig out your old copy of Great Expectations is a great idea. It's so well written, you can't stop, you are there eager to know what is going to happen ...