Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Pickwick Papers Read-a-long: Chapters Twelve to Twenty Four

I'm trying out a new system for this installment of the read-a-long. Instead of frantically churning out a post the night before it's due, I'm going to create this before I even begin and update it before I go.

Last week I struggled for things to actually talk about due to the lack of overarching plot, so hopefully this might also make my post more interesting. Maybe.

Saturday: Chapters Twelve to Fifteen

And so it begins. I've decided to start my reading early - I'm not dreading reading the book quite so much now, so I don't feel as desperate to put it off for as long as possible. Plus I'm going away from Monday to Thursday and I'd rather read something lighter than this. 

I'll admit it - I'm kind of struggling with this. I have a slight book hangover from finishing It's Kind of a Funny Story late last night - it was amazing, so naturally whatever I read afterwards just wasn't going to be as good. Four Victorian men falling over their own idiocy had no chance, did it really?

It didn't help that we were immediately dumped into the middle of a village election, which I really didn't give a toss about. I know the point of Dickens is that you have to read it so carefully in order to pick up on the clever little jokes... but I didn't care. Sorry.

  'Oh, you wicked old rascal,' cried one voice, 'looking arter the girls, are you?'
    'Oh, you wenerable sinner,' cried another.
    'Putting on his spectacles to look at a married 'ooman!' said a third.
    'I see him a-winkin' at her, with his wicked old eye,' shouted a fourth.
    'Look arter your wife, Pott,' bellowed a fifth — and then there was a roar of laughter.
    As these taunts were accompanied with invidious comparisons between Mr. Pickwick and an aged ram, and several witticisms of the like nature... 
Ha. An aged ram. This amuses me an incomprehensible amount. I also pretty much like anybody who pokes Mr Pickwick because I really do think he needs taking down a few pegs. Pompous twit aged ram.

Oh! I did come across the first inserted anecdote thing that I've actually enjoyed, the one about Tom Smart and the chair that speaks to him? Yeah, that was interesting. I really don't see the point of all those though - I know 24 year old Dickens probably wants to practice his storytelling and all that, but for God's sake, tell the story you're already telling!!!

Then there's a poem about an expiring frog. Because, seriously, what novel is complete without one?

My favourite part is where Mr Pickwick and Mr Tupman have a big argument because the former called the latter old and fat, and it gets all exciting and there's going to be drama... but there isn't. Everything's fine. Sigh.

Spangles. Let's talk about the spangles. This is my favourite part of the whole novel so far:
His wardrobe was extensive — very extensive —  not strictly classical perhaps, not quite new, nor did it contain any one garment made precisely after the fashion of any age or time, but everything was more or less spangled; and what can be prettier than spangles! It may be objected that they are not adapted to the daylight, but everybody knows that they would glitter if there were lamps; and nothing can be clearer than that if people give fancy-balls in the day-time, and the dresses do not show quite as well as they would by night, the fault lies solely with the people who give the fancy-balls, and is in no wise chargeable on the spangles. 

I have an imagine of the four men (and I still think Mr Pickwick looks like Bejamin Franklin) all dressed up with their usual stately pomp... in sparkly jumpsuits straight out of Saturday Night Fever. Please let that be a thing. 

This is by far the best chapter so far - it's full of snide observations and Count Smorltork, the guest who believes that a fortnight in England is more than sufficient to write a full tome on the country. He's amazing. I could have filled a full post with quotes just from this part (although I don't think I can beat the spangles). 

Sunday: Chapters Sixteen to Seventeen

Ohhh, these are long-ass chapters. To be fair, I'm not actually resenting having to pick it up as much as I was last week, despite the fact that I'm not feeling too well. I seem to be actually reading less though, which ain't great.

"I worn't always a boots, sir," said Mr. Weller, with a shake of the head. "I wos a vaginer's boy, once."

Why isn't there pages and pages of people asking what this means in my Google search results? I cannot be the only person desperate to know what a 'vaginer' was... modern twelve year old boys aside.

Wednesday: Chapters Eighteen to Twenty-one

What happened here? I knew I should have written something down... That's the problem, I think. All the chapters meld into one...

I read these on the train while travelling into Leeds for an interview and I admit I probably wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been!

Thursday: Chapters Twenty-two to Twenty-three 

I finished this week's reading at 11am this morning, which is closer to the deadline than I usually like to leave it but at least I have a post almost ready to go! I knew I was full of good ideas...

Mr Pickwick is starting to irritate me now, although he didn't at first. So pompous and smug. It makes me shamefully happy whenever he gets himself into a scrape, I just wish he'd acknowledge that sometimes it's his own fault! And he still looks like Benjamin Franklin in my head.

Reoccurring characters have started to pop up, like Mr Jingle and Mr Wardle, which adds a sense of continuity. I haven't had a problem keeping them all straight yet either!

I'll be honest... this post should be better but I've had an appalling week. Deal with it and I promise womise I'll put lots of efforty wefforty in next week.


  1. I think I need to start writing it by chapter as well, by the time I got round to writing this week's post (which is pretty pathetic in general to be honest) I was struggling to remember what I thought about anything, hehe.

    I also really enjoyed the argument between Pickwick and Tupman, and the spangles!

    I also didn't care about the election. I knew that I was probably missing something by sort of not paying that much attention to it while I was reading, but meh.

    In fact, I just pretty much agree with everything that you wrote, apart from perhaps I'm not annoyed with Pickwick yet, although if I actually met him I would not want to be friends with him, I am enjoying reading about him!

  2. Whoa such detailed notes! It was a good refresher from all the side anecdotes that I kept tangling up from the main storylines. Count Smorltork is fantastic character - he reminded me of all the students who studied abroad for a quarter and are suddenly pros on everything French, Italian, etc.

  3. The Ode to an expiring Frog actually made me cry laughing. I started laughing at the title, hit full-on hysterics at the first verse, and was crying for a good ten minutes afterwards. Count Smorltork is possibly my favourite name in this Dickens novel so far, although he doesn't appear to be that good at it.

    Sudden inspiration - Weller seems to mix up his v's and w's as he talks, yes? Maybe it's a WAGGONER. If that's not it, then I have no clue either - though in my edition it's spelled with two Gs, which looks far less dodgy. :D

    I still haven't finished last week's chapters, between everything else that's going on, so I sure as hell won't finish THIS week's on time either - but I'm enjoying it, so I don't really care at this point tbh. The enjoyment's the important thing, and picking it up in the first place was an improvement on leaving it forever, so... YAY READALONG!


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