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View Poll Results: The MobileRead Literary Book Club July 2011 Vote
Bleak House by Charles Dickens 14 34.15%
The Tale Of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu 6 14.63%
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote Of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes 4 9.76%
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie 5 12.20%
Paradise Lost by John Milton 12 29.27%
Voters: 41. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-16-2011, 10:41 AM   #46
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Old 07-16-2011, 02:47 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
Would anyone like to volunteer to lead the discussion on Bleak House which will start in two days?
I'll be finished tomorrow and have really enjoyed the book.

If no one else is interested I'll volunteer. But it's only fair to point out that I've never led a discussion before and you might prefer someone more experienced.
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Old 07-16-2011, 03:25 PM   #48
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"Not to put to fine a point on it..."
I finished yesterday and am really looking forward to the discussion as I have very mixed feelings about it. Since this is my first (and last I might add) Dickens book I am curious about one thing: are all of Dickens characters so one dimensional?

I am back to The Master and Margarita (which I am really liking more than the first time I read it some years ago) and Anna Karenina (with which I am struggling a bit).
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Old 07-16-2011, 09:44 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieBird View Post
are all of Dickens characters so one dimensional?
I haven't had an opportunity to even start Bleak House yet, but I do find it an ironic selection for the "Literary" book club. Dickens was as general and "pop" an author as any who lived in his day, a one man industry analogous to Stephen King in our time. Yes, his works have become classics, but are they thus transmuted from mass-market commercial efforts into literary works? I gather Bleak House was one of his more ambitious and abstract works, but shall we read Stephen King's Rose Madder or Insomnia next? If Dickens lived today, he would probably be writing television.

I don't genuinely object to Bleak House's inclusion nor insist that we observe a more stringent definition of "literary." I'm just making the observation for it's own sake, really. At the time of their publication, Dickens' works almost certainly saw more attention in book clubs of the sort from which ours diverged than from serious critics. Perhaps it can be a talking point for the discussion: is this a genuinely literary work, a commercial work, a self-indulgent departure by a popular author with an established reputation, or other?
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Old 07-17-2011, 06:17 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taosaur View Post
I haven't had an opportunity to even start Bleak House yet, but I do find it an ironic selection for the "Literary" book club. Dickens was as general and "pop" an author as any who lived in his day, a one man industry analogous to Stephen King in our time. Yes, his works have become classics, but are they thus transmuted from mass-market commercial efforts into literary works? I gather Bleak House was one of his more ambitious and abstract works, but shall we read Stephen King's Rose Madder or Insomnia next? If Dickens lived today, he would probably be writing television.
Quite true. {and I'm all in favour of TV adaptations of Dickens.}

But does popularity and commercial success mean a work can't have genuine literary stature? Shakespeare's plays were quite successful and most of them are still acknowledged as being great--and in some cases--supremely great works. I think the same applies to the works of Dickens. He was certainly a populist author and a man of his times who knew what his readers wanted and made sure to give them what they desired--no doubt about that. But he could also transcend his times and create works of enduring quality.

IMO I think that no transmutation is involved. They are what they are because of intrinsic literary merit.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 07-17-2011 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 07-17-2011, 09:28 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taosaur View Post
I haven't had an opportunity to even start Bleak House yet, but I do find it an ironic selection for the "Literary" book club. Dickens was as general and "pop" an author as any who lived in his day, a one man industry analogous to Stephen King in our time. Yes, his works have become classics, but are they thus transmuted from mass-market commercial efforts into literary works? I gather Bleak House was one of his more ambitious and abstract works, but shall we read Stephen King's Rose Madder or Insomnia next? If Dickens lived today, he would probably be writing television.

I don't genuinely object to Bleak House's inclusion nor insist that we observe a more stringent definition of "literary." I'm just making the observation for it's own sake, really. At the time of their publication, Dickens' works almost certainly saw more attention in book clubs of the sort from which ours diverged than from serious critics. Perhaps it can be a talking point for the discussion: is this a genuinely literary work, a commercial work, a self-indulgent departure by a popular author with an established reputation, or other?
Quote:
Originally Posted by fantasyfan View Post
Quite true. {and I'm all in favour of TV adaptations of Dickens.}

But does popularity and commercial success mean a work can't have genuine literary stature? Shakespeare's plays were quite successful and most of them are still acknowledged as being great--and in some cases--supremely great works. I think the same applies to the works of Dickens. He was certainly a populist author and a man of his times who knew what his readers wanted and made sure to give them what they desired--no doubt about that. But he could also transcend his times and create works of enduring quality.

IMO I think that no transmutation is involved. They are what they are because of intrinsic literary merit.
The time to settle the question of whether or not Bleak House represents a literary book, and whether it satisfied the following monthly criteria was during the nomination period and vote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
The category for this month is:
Highly Challenging (especially difficult or long works we may be hesitant to choose otherwise)

I seem to recall that there was a brief heated discussion on this topic, though not about Dickens, and Stephen King's The Stand was nominated. It just did not received enough additional endorsements to even make it to the vote. I don't know what alternative there would be to just leaving these selections up to the popular vote. That is unless Sun Surfer would like to take on the unenviable task of tossing out nominations that are deemed not literary enough.

I have my own opinion, already expressed somewhere else in this Reading Recommendations forum, as to whether or not Bleak House met all criteria. However, it was chosen, I read it, enjoyed it as I have most of Dickens' works, and will participate in the discussion.

Anyway thank you Fantasyfan for volunteering to lead the discussion.

Last edited by Hamlet53; 07-17-2011 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 07-17-2011, 02:08 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamlet53 View Post
The time to settle the question of whether or not Bleak House represents a literary book, and whether it satisfied the following monthly criteria was during the nomination period and vote.

I seem to recall that there was a brief heated discussion on this topic, though not about Dickens, and Stephen King's The Stand was nominated. It just did not received enough additional endorsements to even make it to the vote. I don't know what alternative there would be to just leaving these selections up to the popular vote. That is unless Sun Surfer would like to take on the unenviable task of tossing out nominations that are deemed not literary enough.
Well, again:

Quote:
Originally Posted by taosaur View Post
I don't genuinely object to Bleak House's inclusion nor insist that we observe a more stringent definition of "literary."
Popular vote seems just fine. I'm just making conversation. Off topic, I suppose, but the thread has served its original purpose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fantasyfan View Post
But does popularity and commercial success mean a work can't have genuine literary stature? Shakespeare's plays were quite successful and most of them are still acknowledged as being great--and in some cases--supremely great works. I think the same applies to the works of Dickens. He was certainly a populist author and a man of his times who knew what his readers wanted and made sure to give them what they desired--no doubt about that. But he could also transcend his times and create works of enduring quality.
Of course, these points bring up the question of whether being literary has anything to do with quality, stature or greatness. I don't distinguish literary works from bad or unimportant works, but from conventional fiction. Conventional works may have great merit and become classics on the basis of the quality of their conventional elements: a memorable character, dramatic events, or as in Dickens' case, a setting evoked and revisited throughout a body of work. Conversely, publishers daily reject literary novels which are terrible and won't even have the privilege of ignominy.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:50 AM   #53
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If no one else is interested I'll volunteer. But it's only fair to point out that I've never led a discussion before and you might prefer someone more experienced.
There is no preference, only who if anyone would like to help lead the discussion, so you are perfect.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:50 AM   #54
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There is no preference, only who if anyone would like to help lead the discussion, so you are perfect.

OK. I'll give it a try!

I'll post the opener as soon as the Discussion thread begins.
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:47 PM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieBird View Post
"Not to put to fine a point on it..."
I finished yesterday and am really looking forward to the discussion as I have very mixed feelings about it. Since this is my first (and last I might add) Dickens book I am curious about one thing: are all of Dickens characters so one dimensional?
In "Aspects of the novel" E. M. Forster discusses whatbhe terms 'flat' and 'round' characters and uses Dickens to illustrate the terms". According to Forster, Dickens' trick was to describe flat, one-dimensional characters in a way so that they appear more round than they actually are.
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:40 PM   #56
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Guess I'll move Aspects of the Novel up on my TBR list. It's been languishing near the bottom for nearly a year now. Thanks, folks, for the insights...should be an interesting discussion.
fantasyfan, you're braver than I, but then you are also more articulate. Sure you'll do fine.
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:11 PM   #57
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OK. I'll give it a try!

I'll post the opener as soon as the Discussion thread begins.
I'm resisting joining the discussion until I'm finished with it - hope to be able to join you soon!
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