10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
My favourite Dickens.,
This review is from: Great Expectations (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Having sat through one and a half episodes of the new adaptation of "Great Expectations", I felt that I ought to put in a word in defence of the actual novel in case those who haven't read it got the wrong impression of it from TV.
First of all, despite what the producers of the TV series seem to think, "Great Expectations" is funny. Pip's being attacked and threatened by the convict in Chapter One is hilarious, as is his fight at Satis House, as is his persecution by a local boy after he buys his posh clothes for London and as are any number of incidents throughout the novel. They are funny because Dickens was funny and wrote for an audience who expected him to be funny and because "Great Expectations" is written from Pip's point of view as a grown up of incidents which seemed upsetting or even traumatic at the time and seem comic to him later.
Even though the novel is hilarious at times, it also deals with love in its many forms in the most tender and surprising way. To go into detail would spoil the novel for some and I envy anyone coming to it without knowledge of its central secret but it's fair to say that Dickens' mastery of pace and manipulation of his readers' attention allows him to deliver a crushing emotional hammer blow during the novel which changes Pip's view of life convincingly and lets him sweep us on to the loomingly spectacular later chapters and two dramatic climaxes. Heroically unconditional love stalks the pages of this book, as it does in much of Dickens but there is little of the cloying sentimentality that accompanies it in other works of his. Neither would it be fair to claim that the novel is overlong or convoluted as some other Dickens is for me. There are moments that could be edited from the text without loss to the plot but they are rare and worth reading in their own right, as the reviewer who mentioned the visit to Wemmick's house has pointed out.
It goes without saying that the novel deploys any number of memorable characters:Miss Havisham, Joe Gargery, the aforementioned Wemmick and Pip himself,the boiling mess of ambition,decency,pomposity,guilt,stupidity and humanity, are a few which come to mind. For me, however, Jaggers is,with one unmentionable exception,the most rivetting creation of all - studied, threatening, dominant and knowing.
This is my favourite Dickens novel. I would not dispute that several others are its equal but they do not pull at my heartstrings in quite the same way.I doubt seeing them knocked about on TV would have annoyed me quite so much.