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Old 03-19-2019, 04:15 PM   #52
issybird
o saeclum infacetum
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I finished the book in timely fashion but had a computer crisis. Best laid plans and all that. I've read the thread and will respond to some individual posts, but I thought I'd give some general impressions.

I loved it. I was sucked in from the beginning; the scene in the opium den was so creepy and portentous that Dickens had me from then on. And then the Close in December; one could imagine how location worked on people to entice them into evil.

I'm in the Edwin survives camp, but also in the camp that says that Dickens was keeping his options open. The point of the ring could well have been to ensure identification of the body dissolved in quicklime; otherwise it's a red herring. And even if Edwin did survive, I think we have to assume that Jasper assumed he killed him; certainly there must have been an interval when Edwin was unconscious and seemingly dead, when Jasper removed the jewelry he knew of, to plant it at the weir.

One thing that puzzled me is that at one point in the churchyard, mention was made of Edwin's father's tomb. So where is his mother buried? I really, really wanted to think that Princess Puffer was in fact Jasper's sister and Edwin's mother, but she seems too old for that. It's still the best explanation for Jasper's connection to her and her hatred of him and protectiveness toward Edwin. It's easy enough to believe that if she had sunk into depravity, it was more palatable for her husband and brother to concoct a tale of her death than to cope. A different version of Bertha Rochester in her attic, as it were.

Yes, I know some of the characters were caricatures, but I found Sapsea hilarious just the same. I laughed every time I read that epitaph. I also enjoyed the way Jasper wound him up. I found both Honeythunder and the disquisitions on philanthropy tedious in the extreme, however.

My feeling on coming to the end such as it was that I was glad in a way that it was unfinished. The double nuptials at the end, so much sweetness, would have irritated me. Instead, there's the fun of turning over the possibilities. I do regret missing out on the examination of evil through the prism of Jasper. I wonder to what extent exculpatory factors Dickens might have raised?
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