Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Read Dickens: Reprinted Pieces

In the back of  of the volume which contains Dickens' Christmas Stories are his reprinted pieces, a compilation of stories, fables, political commentary, satire, straight reportage and delirious mixtures of the previous. Most interesting are his interviews with detectives, as they tell stories about crimes they have detected. His report on a night following a policeman and heading up and down the Thames on a police boat is also fascinating.

Less so are his overly extended political satire. Most successful is probably his story of how a man got a patent, which involves passing documents back and forth through a dozen offices with each one charging a fee or two or three. A fable about Prince Bull who is constantly having trouble with his red-cloaked godmother Tape is mildly amusing until we realise that this is about the Crimean War.

There's a few cute or clever ideas amongst the rest of the stories, but for the most part it's for completists and victoriana enthusiasts.


Read This: The police pieces, especially The Detective Police are of interest; for the rest only if you really love Dickens.
Don't Read This: If outdated satire, police procedure and slighter stories aren't your bag.
In Addition: His review of the cattle markets and abattoirs of Paris is awkwardly framed in the claims of a London councilman opposing reform of Smithfield market; he tries to take seriously the claim that copying the French is wrong because they eat frogs and wear clogs rather eat beef and wear leather, but can't sustain it. It is an interesting failure called A Monument of French Folly.

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