Monday, July 30, 2012

I Read Dickens: The Uncommercial Traveller

(I am in the middle of a read of a set of Dickens that belonged to my Great Grandfather and now belong to my Mother. From scanning the spines it's pretty complete fiction-wise, and has some non-fiction; it may be his complete published works. We'll find out at the end when I compare it to someone else's list.)

The Uncommercial Traveller is a set of stories and reminiscences by Dickens in his character as an uncommercial traveller. As might be expected he travels about, but, rather than just being a tourist, he researches and interviews. It's like human interest journalism, except he changes the names (his home town of Chatham is referred to as Dullborough) to protect the innocent.

All in all, they're a mixture of fairly slight pieces, one of which is a very bad dinner at a (Kentish?) seaside town in an inn called the Temeraire, and the more serious ones which are generally about issues that have been resolved sometime in the last 140 years. Some of them were entertaining, some were interesting, most of them piled detail on detail to make their case, which is fine if a bit slow. Again I'd suggest this for completists, although some have historical interest as well. Dating from the last decade of Dickens' life, they are all pretty well polished.

Read This: Dickens fans will find out some interesting things - his love of walks, his insomnia, his passion for finding out details of places, especially London. There's a bit there for people interested in Victorian History.
Don't Read This: If the verbose Victorian style does nothing for you, or if the melodramatic discussion of tragedy or the lengthy domestic comedy of the period is not of interest.
Available Online: Here amongst other places.

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