Bleak House: Background & Preface

Bleak House by Charles Dickens:

Charles Dickens biography/timeline, Introduction, Preface

Summary: Charles Dickens, AKA Boz, had to work his family out of debtor’s prison, but after that things went pretty well for him. He went to private school, wrote tons of books and actually became famous for them in his lifetime, got married and had 10 kids. He never forgot where he came from and was a sort of champion for the lower classes when so many others concentrated only on the so-wonderful upper class. Not everything went great for him, though. He fought endlessly with people stealing and plagiarizing his work, some of his children died, and eventually he went into a dark period spurred by the sickness of his wife and the death of his daughter and father. Bleak House was written during the beginning of this dark period. Around this time he separated from his wife to be with his mistress, an actress he was apparently obsessed about, and then his health declined until he died in the middle of writing the book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

I started reading the book’s introduction, but then I stopped because it seemed to be an in-depth analysis of all the characters and the plot, and I didn’t want to know anything about it beforehand. Then the Preface, by Dickens: He mentions a 20+ court case he is going to be making fun of in the story, and discusses cases of spontaneous combustion and how he doesn’t believe it’s impossible, so it is allowed to be in his realistic book.

Reaction: Dickens’ life is very interesting. I only knew a little bit–probably picked up when we did The Christmas Carol in 8th grade and had to read Great Expectations in freshman high school English. It would have been nice to know that Edwin Drood was incomplete before I’d picked it up at the library several years before and read it. If it had been finished I would have really enjoyed it. 😦 And I can’t wait to get to the part about spontaneous combustion!

Prediction: I’m not sure what I’ll feel about all the court case stuff, but since my work-in-progress involves a court case (a modern one, not a Victorian one, though) I will probably be somewhat interested. It’s also a mystery I think, and I love mysteries. (My WIP is also a mystery).

I won’t do the other sections today because I haven’t actually started the book. Looks like this one will take me over 2 months to get through, so hopefully it will be good!

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