Posted by: gillarbuthnott | January 13, 2012

My Dickens Disability

I have a problem. A big problem, which I’ve managed to conceal until now. This year though, I’m afraid it’s going to come out.

I can’t do Dickens.

I’ve tried and tried, really I have. I managed A Christmas Carol and Tale of Two Cities in my youth, and I battled my way through Oliver Twist as an adult, but I didn’t get a moment’s enjoyment from the experience. I got as far as loading The Pickwick Papers onto my new Kindle, then came to my senses and deleted it half an hour later.

Even more embarrassingly, it’s just Dickens in its written form I can’t cope with. Give me a good adaptation and I’ll lap it up; I was riveted to Great Expectations over Christmas (I loved Gillian Anderson’s Miss Haversham and thought she burned very prettily) and enjoyed Edwin Drood. I still have fond memories of an adaptation of Bleak House years ago, with Denholm Eliot in it. And as for the Muppets’ Christmas Carol…

No, I’m afraid the Dickens novel appreciation lobe of my brain wasn’t fitted by the manufacturer. It’s all just too grotesque on the page; I never feel I’m reading about real human beings.

Is there a cure for me, or am I doomed to be a literary outcast in Dickens bicentennial year?


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