Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dombey and Son

Being an English Lit student and all, you'd think I'd want to mention the odd book now and then. Generally, though, I would rather think about anything but, and it's not that I dislike my course at all - I've discovered many literary friends-for-life already over these last couple of years - it's just mere fatigue of talking and thinking about them.

But I've got to mention Dombey and Son. Hardly obscure I know, but I really want to flag this up for anyone who doesn't like Dickens that much. I wasn't entirely decided, because I thought most of his novels were on a very similar theme - young boy is mistreated a bit, meets lots of over-the-top characters, coincidences abound, workhouses and strict teachers and all that. But Dombey and Son is so different. At it's centre is the relationship between Dombey and his daughter, who he starts off considering simply a waste of space, a 'bad boy' and 'a base coin that couldn't be invested', but (and I don't think I'm giving too much away) eventually learns to see with different eyes. It's how Dickens treats this relationship that's so special - really well studied, and heart-wrenching at moments. The comedy relief characters aren't just caricatures either, but real people with those idiosyncratic quirks that Dickens does so well.

If you don't like Dickens, try giving him one last go with this.

4 comments:

Martyn said...

Dombey & Son is one of my favourite Dicken's novels, but my ultimate bestest fave is Tale of Two Cities. He is worth perservering with .I do go back to his books from time to time usually on holiday when there's loads of time to immerse myself. Hardy is my favourite Victorian novelist though, truly miserable !

Matt_c said...

But Dombey and Son is so different. At it's centre is the relationship between Dombey and his daughter, who he starts off considering simply a waste of space, a 'bad boy' and 'a base coin that couldn't be invested', but (and I don't think I'm giving too much away) eventually learns to see with different eyes.

I'm confused. Is the story like a Greek myth where the daughter becomes a boy the more economically useful s/he becomes? I didn't know Dickens had any transgenedered characters... Sort of like a reverse Orlando?
Or is it about how he wanted a son and had to cope with a daughter?

AnnaWaits said...

Dombey does in fact have a son, younger than Florence, who he puts all his efforts into, but when the son dies quite young, he becomes harsher to his daughter because essentially, he, wishes she'd been the one to go. The phrase 'bad boy' is used to give the idea that she's like a boy gone wrong to him, I guess.

Mellie Bean said...

I like me some Dickens, but have not read this particular one ... will add it to my neverending reading list! ;-)