Jane Austen versus Charles Dickens?
Not a fair fight!
The two have very different attributes and most definitely would fight in different divisions, indeed in very disciplines.
I learned to love Jane Austen at a very young age, and with the passing of the years I have come to appreciate her writing even more.
It took me longer to learn to love Charles Dickens, but in time that love came. When I started treating his books as serials to be read over an extended period something finally clicked.
I have much unread Dickens but no unread Austen, and so it was Dickens I chose to read for the Classic Circuit.
And I chose The Pickwick Papers.
“Gardening, walks, rows on the river, and flower hunts employed the fine days, and for rainy ones, they had house diversions, some old, some new, all more or less original. One of these was the ‘P.C.’, for as secret societies were the fashion, it was thought proper to have one, and as all of the girls admired Dickens, they called themselves the Pickwick Club. With a few interruptions, they had kept this up for a year, and met every Saturday evening in the big garret, on which occasions the ceremonies were as follows: Three chairs were arranged in a row before a table on which was a lamp, also four white badges, with a big ‘P.C.’ in different colors on each, and the weekly newspaper called, The Pickwick Portfolio, to which all contributed something, while Jo, who reveled in pens and ink, was the editor. At seven o’clock, the four members ascended to the clubroom, tied their badges round their heads, and took their seats with great solemnity. Meg, as the eldest, was Samuel Pickwick, Jo, being of a literary turn, Augustus Snodgrass, Beth, because she was round and rosy, Tracy Tupman, and Amy, who was always trying to do what she couldn’t, was Nathaniel Winkle. Pickwick, the president, read the paper, which was filled with original tales, poetry, local news, funny advertisements, and hints, in which they good-naturedly reminded each other of their faults and short comings.”
(from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
It’s been quietly calling me ever since I first read those words.
But I must confess that I have read very little of The Pickwick Papers.
The time just hasn’t been right, and I have been trying to fit too many things into not quite enough time.
But the little I have read has already given me an inkling of just how it so inspired the March girls.
I’ll progress through The Pickwick Papers slowly, when the time is right, and I am quite sure that I will enjoy the journey.
But that may not be for a while. Now that I have picked up Little Women to pull up that quote I am very, very tempted to reread the whole book…