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Onze wederzijdse vriend (1865)
door Charles Dickens
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The whole time I was reading this, I felt like I was reading a book that had a prequel to it that I had Missed reading. This was Dicken's intention, as he relates in the postscript. It works well, to keep the reader trying to puzzle out the mystery. A master of characterization, Dickens will have you switching your loyalty back and forth between who you love, who you hate, and who you are holding off judgement, chapter by chapter. In the end, you'll be saying, "I should have known." I like how Dickens used his considerable platform to raise Society's awareness of the plight of those who would be ensnared by Poorhouse laws.
If you have ever read Charles Dickens, you will know that his plot lines, characters, and literary devices are myriad, and for my thinking, Our Mutual Friend might employ more of those than any other of his novels that I have read. In the beginning, this made the thread a little harder to keep untangled, but in the end, it served his purposes beautifully.
There are, for your entertainment, two major love stories, a mysterious imposter, a murderer or two, a few men of nefarious occupation, a couple of red herrings and several mistreated, but eternally good, individuals. Jenny Wren is a marvelous character, along with the Jew, Riah, who helps to atone for the evil character of Fagin in Oliver Twist. Betty Higden is a superb example of the worthy poor, and the Boffins are an unforgettable couple. I was particularly interested in Lizzie Hexam and Eugene Wrayburn, a part of the plot that was less easy to predict than some of the others. Both the love stories are captivating, and the ins and outs, and coincidental crossings, of each of the characters with the others is masterful. This is a later work, and the maturity of the writing and plot control are obvious.
Then there is just the irrefutable wisdom of Mr. Dickens:
And this is another spell against which the shedder of blood for ever strives in vain. There are fifty doors by which discovery may enter. With infinite pains and cunning, he double locks and bars forty-nine of them, and cannot see the fiftieth standing wide open.
Ah, Mr. Dickens, may it ever be so!
Not an unusual subject for Dickens, he deals with the plight of the poor and the inadequate methods of alleviating it, and he does it with deftness and just the right touch of sentiment.
For when we have got things to the pass that with an enormous treasure at disposal to relieve the poor, the best of the poor detest our mercies, hide their heads from us, and shame us by starving to death in the midst of us, it is a pass impossible of prosperity, impossible of continuance. It may not be so written in the Gospel according to Podsnappery, you may not find these words for the text of a sermon, in the Returns of the Board of Trade; but they have been the truth since the foundations of the universe were laid, and they will be the truth until the foundations of the universe are shaken by the Builder.
Does our modern society not still wrestle with how to help people pull themselves up without damaging their worth in their own eyes? Do we not still have a system that creates a class barrier and with the very assistance we offer sometimes assure that people will remain and always be aware that their class is not “our” class?
There are almost as many themes as there are characters. Money, its influence and its corrupting properties, is one, but as the Bible tells us it is the “love of money” that is “the root of all evil” and Dickens makes it clear that it is the fault in the people and not the wealth itself that is objectionable. There is the major theme of class division and the insensibility of choices made for no other reason than that a person is part of one class or the other. There is the significance of friendship and loyalty, the importance of truth and ethics, and the value of trust in relationships, including but not limited to marriage. There is betrayal, but there is also steadfastness and a desire on the part of so many of these characters to overcome the baseness of their worlds and rise above their conditions morally.
There were a few sections that plodded, but for the most part I was feeling sorry for the original audience who were forced to wait for the next installment to find out what was to happen and could not just plow ahead, as I found myself inclined to do.
The novel is quite long at over 800 pages, but I read over a three month span and enjoyed it immensely. I am making some progress toward my goal of reading ALL of Dickens’ works. Next up is Nicholas Nickleby, and if it is as pleasing for me as this one, I will be quite happy indeed.
4 stars? for dickens? what gives....? Ok, so I loved reading this book and cherish many characters and scenes, but really it is a tad too sickly sentimental by the end for me. The happy resolution of the leading characters while acceptable does not need to be puffed up with the lovey gooey talk of every other sentence by Mr. Harmon (to Bella) and even the comic Mrs. Wilfer is too over the top. Yes, it is Dickens and we don't read it for subtlety, but this does seem overwrought and reaching too much of the time. Still... still... the driver and dour Mr. Headstone, so real and clear and the rollicking Rogue Riderhood ... they're a pair and a sport to read about. But to have 2 characters (the dollmaker and Bella) both make it a point of dealing with their fathers as their children is ... at least one too much, correct?
Vastly disappointing. I have read most of Dickens' novels and found all of them engrossing from first to last (five stars). Until this. Our Mutual Friend is much verbosity about mostly vapid characters, for the first 40% of the novel, whereupon I gave up.
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A satiric masterpiece about the allure and peril of money, "Our Mutual Friend" revolves around the inheritance of a dust-heap where the rich throw their trash. When the body of John Harmon, the dust-heap's expected heir, is found in the Thames, fortunes change hands surprisingly, raising to new heights "Noddy" Boffin, a low-born but kindly clerk who becomes "the Golden Dustman." Charles Dickens's last complete novel, "Our Mutual Friend" encompasses the great themes of his earlier works: the pretensions of the nouveaux riches, the ingenuousness of the aspiring poor, and the unfailing power of wealth to corrupt all who crave it. With its flavorful cast of characters and numerous subplots, "Our Mutual Friend" is one of Dickens's most complex--and satisfying--novels.
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Dewey Decimale Classificatie (DDC)823.8Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Victorian period 1837-1900
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2 edities van dit boek werden gepubliceerd door Penguin Australia.
Edities: 0140434976, 0141199806
A majestic, dark, swirling novel, this. I'm not quite sure it's a Dickensian masterpiece on the level of Great Expectations or Bleak House, nor perhaps is it as dear to my heart as Little Dorrit. Nevertheless, it slots nicely into fourth place for me. Dickens' last completed novel, Our Mutual Friend is a thematically unified treatise on money, death, transformation, and the ways in which humans can never truly know one another. As expected, the novel bursts with memorable characters: the lowlife Rogue Riderhood, the even worse Silas Wegg and his Decline and Fall of the Rooshan Roman Empire, the giddy Boffins and the scheming Lammles, the doll's dressmaker Jenny Wren and the determined septuagenarian Betty Higden, the tormented Bradley Headstone and the great, interminable Mrs. Wilfer. They are all characters at the service of two richly symbolic legacies: the death of John Harmon, Sr, and his fortune founded (quite literally) on piles of dust, and that of Gaffer Hexam, the "waterside character", fisher of dead bodies from the Thames, whose life and death on that swirling, copper river seems to embody Dickens' thoughts on life, regardless of one's "station".
Being a Dickens acolyte sometimes means accepting that his main characters are going to endure external transformations, not internal ones. No shades of Tolstoy here, thankyou very much. And while John Rokesmith is little more than a tormented plaything of the fates, we at least get some satisfying development in the determined, put-upon Lizzie Hexam, the gruff and sometimes pseudo-villainous Eugene Wrayburn, and that devastating creature, the mercenary Bella Wilfer. Readers' tolerance will vary as to how convincing any of the character's transformations are, and the practice of publishing the novel in 20 serialised parts of the same length means that sometimes one feels like Dickens has cut short important moments, while other character moments seem to go on for a few too many pages.
Nevertheless, there's little to complain about here. Like most artists in their old age, Dickens' work is a lot richer here than in the early novels like Nicholas Nickleby although at the same time, his situations have lost some of their carefree pizzazz and even his grotesques are - in order to be more shaded-in - less outright comical. But CD's tongue remains firmly lodged in his cheek here, particularly in his dealings with the Lammles and Mr. Wilfer's thoughts on his home life. The symbolism at play in this book, exemplified by those mounds of dust on which fortunes depend, are particularly interesting given that, just months after the book was completed, Britain would face a financial scandal that would bring down many. Best of all, Dickens' descriptive powers have never been better. The night walks of Wrayburn, and Headstone, and Riderhood along the country river compete with a sequence of death and resurrection in a low-end pub, a children's hospital of great sorrow and compassion, the "bran' new" dinner parties of the Veneerings, and - most unforgettable of all - the darkened rooms of London's most prolific and talented anatomist (to judge from his own opinions), Mr. Venus. As the smile on Venus' alligator seems to say, "All of this was quite familiar knowledge down in the depths of the slime, ages ago."
Delightful, although I don't think I'd recommend it to newcomers to Dickens. It's a more rarefied example of his work that probably tastes better once the palate has grown accustomed. ( )