What the Dickens


   bleak-house

Having recently watched the entire season 1 of Dickensian, the TV series from BBC1, which over the course of twenty half hourly episodes spans the entire spectrum of Charles dickens books giving a prelude to each and every one of dickens immortal characters and their motivations for behaving as they do in the books, I embarked on the next logical step for every diehard dickens fan. To re-read the entire oeuvre, every single one of dickens books again. And not only that but this time I wanted to do it in the proper chronological order in which they were written/published by the author -from his first book Sketches by Boz which he published under a pseudonym to his last and uncompleted novel- Mystery of Edwin Drood halfway through writing which Charles dickens died suddenly. I decided to make a proper job of it and have spent the last one month finishing up the dickens collection and here are a few stray thoughts on re-reading dickens after a lapse of so many years.

To begin with (to my surprise) I found that some of my old favourites like pickwick papers and nickolas nickelby though favourites still, are no longer capable of gripping my attention like a few others which I once deemed to be too morbid or morose in the past. The antics of the pickwickians and the incorrigible sam weller still raises a few laughs when I re-read the books but now the entire gang seem like one of the old familial  whatsaap groups you drop in from time to time just to check who’s still in there but otherwise leave well alone despite the notifications. The ones which I enjoyed now include bleak house, great expectations, oliver twist and mystery of Edwin drood.

Bleak house which as the name suggests is every bit as bleak a story can be, absolutely captivated me when I re-read it this past month. The fictitious legal story of jarndyce vs jarndyce, the great case of the chancery courts has very eerie similarity to what we see and read every day in Indian courts and justice system. The way that cases are postponed indefinitely till the parties to the case conveniently die off and the court costs swallow up the entire property, the way the lawyers on both sides collude to keep dragging the case till the unfortunate litigants are forced to regret to their graves the day they stepped into court expecting justice in a mistaken belief of the majesty of law and fair play – everything seems to have been written just for Indian courts and legal system.

 The book “bleak house” left me wondering if our Indian judiciary is right now where the British courts where 300 years ago- an uncaring, money squeezing enterprise capable of driving everyone- both litigants and witnesses to despair with the never ending process of offering justice. In a span of nearly two centuries after the book was first published the British seem to have improved their justice system to such an extent that British law has turned into a more responsible version of itself now. But although we Indians inherited that same legal code and the same system of judiciary we did not, to our eternal misfortune, inherit the same system of accountability for the processes of law which the British have instilled in their justice system. I guess it will take another 300 more years (at least?) till Indian courts become accountable to the common public and cases will be decided when the litigants are still alive to hear the news of the judgments. Till then every day you can see another travesty of a jarndyce vs jarndyce in Indian law.

The next book I really loved this time was great expectations which when I was younger I never really appreciated to the extent I do now. Although the book is filled with despicable characters none of whom can claim the least amount of sympathy from us the readers, the book is a very fine example of the folly of people who are always maneuvering to gain the smallest bit of advantage in their personal lives by often missing the big picture entirely in their micro management. If we look around ourselves we can see a lot of typical characters from great expectations in real life every single day. All those ass kissers, boot lickers, revengeful persons who spend all their life plotting to gains some minuscule bit of advantage over someone else- every single character in great expectations sounds true to life and sitting just beside you in the next cubicle at work. And now that I am older and wiser and been through enough heartbreaks I can appreciate miss Havisham’s character more clearly although I cannot countenance any sympathy for her because in my view she deserves what she got for being who she is- a haughty, imperious egoistic feminist who falls for the worst possible fraud. Great expectations is the definitive lesson to every single girl who friend zones nice guys for not agreeing with their feminazi views. If any man wholeheartedly agrees with the femi-nazis there is no doubt he is a compeyson in the making who kisses ass just to screw her out of her money later on. Nice guys don’t always win is the take home message from great expectations.

The other book I liked when I reread it this time around were the mystery of Edwin drood- dickens only attempt at writing a detective novel and the only one which he left unfinished, which in a way is the perfect ending for the book. For although we can suspect every one and the uncle character is steadfastly built up to be the evil villain the book reflects the real life conundrum that sometimes perfect crimes can never be exposed and villains do get away with them. In my view as a lifelong dickens fan I believe that Edwin drood should be left well alone as it is without being finished by someone else as is often proposed by amateur dickens societies. The mystery of Edwin drood should remain a mystery till the end as maybe dickens planned?

I also could look on and sympathize a whole lot with dickens complex characters who require a certain maturity to understand them. I can now confidently say that I understand better ralph nickelby’s (the evil uncle from Nicholas nickelby) motivations perfectly well. Here was a man, a self made man who had worked hard to get where he was suddenly in the twilight of his life thrust upon with fawning relatives left behind by a man careless enough to have children but with no thought to provide for them except to believe his rich brother (the brother who started life at the same footing as him) would provide for just because he doesn’t have a family to call his own and all his money has to go somewhere and where else except to the wastrel brothers brood of kids who grow up thinking themselves entitled to it. No wonder ralph nickelby is bitter at his dead brother and his groping relatives.

Similar is the case with Fagin. Here was a man who took in runaways and wastrels and street kids and gave them a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. In return he made use of them to rob rich people of frivolities life pocket handkerchiefs. is he such a villain then? When the entire society has turned a blind eye to homeless kids and strays who live on the streets, this man takes them in and makes us of them. Just like the government does in its workhouses. I don’t see that Fagin is such a great villain as he is made out in the later adaptations on TV and film. Remember if he was such a bad man who harassed his kid the dodger for one, a genuine badass himself, wouldn’t have stuck around and defended Fagin as he did for so long. There is equal parts good and bad in characters like Fagin. It takes a long time and many re-readings to understand his point of view. And there lies dickens genius. To make you look at old familiar characters in a new light every time you re-read the same book.

I hope I haven’t been boring you with this doctoral dissertation level analysis of dickens novels. If you too are a fan of dickens or even if you have just read one or two of his novels write in to me in the comments section and we wil have a ball discussing our views.

 

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A Round-Up Of My TV Show Recommendations


A Round-Up Of My TV Show Recommendations

Blandings2

So the newest season of Game of thrones has started off as expected – John Snow has been brought back to life which was pretty much anticipated and eagerly awaited for, the only question being how he would he resurrected from the dead. Episode 2 has revealed that his spirit had escaped into his direwolf Snow as his body was being stabbed multiple times and from there it returned back to his human body when the Red Woman, Melisandre the sorceress of the Light-cult, worked her magic on his wounds. The other character, the only other character we sympathize with and hope to see survive the Game Of Thrones, Daenerys is well on her way to acquiring her promised bridal gift- the entire dothraki nation to rally behind her cause. Just to recall, Khal Drogo, he who was prophesied to be the father of the stallion which rules the world and hence always fucked daenerys from behind (like a stallion?), had promised the use of the dothraki hordes against the westeros as a marriage gift to daenerys to regain her throne, but as he unfortunately dropped off dead and daenerys couldn’t hold on to what was left of the khals army she had to go and recruit eunuch warriors and mercenaries who all proved inadequate to the upcoming campaign against the might of the seven kingdoms across the dothraki sea to finally put a Targaryen on the throne.

Another interesting show I regularly watch, the latest season (season 3) of Penny Dreadful has got off to a kick-ass beginning as well. Count Dracula, the main villain is back on the show after disappearing for most of last season leaving the field open to minor witches and monsters and he has finally hooked up with Renfield, his future nemesis Dr. Seward’s confidential secretary. And Adam, the Frankenstein’s monster at last lives up to his name by twisting off the head of a ten year old child before walking back to england all the way from the arctic where he was marooned on a sunken ship bound in the ice field, at the end of last season. And the protagonist of the show Miss. Ives played by the delectable Eva Green, has at last got out of the stupor of a broken heart and is out and about, ready to face up all the evils of the night which haunt 1880’s London, most of whom she has had sex with in the previous two seasons. All in all the show promises to send more than a few heartbeats racing (and i don’t mean just in the horror sense) this season as well.

pennydreadful

I have also finished watching the entire season 1 of the latest BBC adaptation of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I have to admit that I cant wait too long for season 2 to start. The TV show has added a new interpretation to the traditional story by making sure that although played by the same character, Robert Jekyll’s alter ego Hyde is shown in a delightful new avatar of understated villainy instead of the usual over the top villainous antics we are used to seeing in previous adaptations. The show again has ended in a flaming season finale and we cant wait long enough to see Robert Jekyll get up and show his other side in season 2.

JekyllHyde

Dickensian

Dickensian season 1 has ended in BBC one, leaving a half hour void in my night time TV schedule. For those not familiar with the series it is an adaptation of all the Charles dickens novels in an amalgamation where all the various characters interact with one another in un-looked for ways. We are shown the beginnings of Miss. Havisham’s hatred for men with the love affair which caused it ( from Great Expectations) along with the death of Jacob Marley and the coming into fortune of his sole partner Ebenezer Scrooge ( from A Christmas Carol) and Fagin and gang, the likes of the Artful Dodger, Bill Sikes and Nancy (of Oliver Twist) who are suspected of killing Marley on behalf of Scrooge – all in all an interesting mish mash of characters and situations all intertwined together.

So to fill up my half an hour nostalgia tv show slot I have recently started binge-watching Blanding’s, the show based on the P.G. Wodehouse novels of the same name. The antics of the Earl of Emsworth and his price pig the Empress of Blandings have been hilariously brought alive on TV for the first time. Throw in Aunt Connie, Emsworth’s sister and Freddie Threepwood his son and an assortment of wodehousian favorite characters like Sir Roderick Glossop, who keep dropping in and out of the show, you have a crackerjack of a comedy masterpiece crammed inside half an hour. Highly recommended for a last show before bed night time slot to leave you with a pleasant smile on your face as you sleep.

death-comes-to-pemberley

The last show i want to talk about is the BBC adaptation of the sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice novel -Death Comes To Pemberley. The book which was a gripping whodunit murder mystery solved by Elizabeth Bennet of the Pride book had me salivating at the opportunity of watching a TV adaptation. And it didnt disappoint as it stuck pretty much to the template of the book. But if there was one thing which soured my pleasure of the TV adaptation it was the casting. Every character was aptly cast except for the lead one, the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. If you remember reading Pride and Prejudice you would remember that Miss Elizabeth Bennet was a saucy little beauty who made not only the proud Mr.Darcy fall madly in love, but also carries on a brief fling with the much experienced ( in a ladies way) man about town – George Wickham the eventual villain of the novel. But the tv show has erred erroneously in casting an ugly old hag has elizabeth bennet. Granted its been a few years since her wedding and she is now the mother of a five year old child, but i cant help thinking that elizabeth would still be a milf oozing sexuality and not such an ugly old has been especially after remembering Keira Knightley in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. God only knows what the makers were thinking when they cast the characters. Maybe they were looking to make it on a low budget and this waas all they could afford to hire? I leave it to you dear readers.