Usually when I finish reading a book, I write a post for it, but I’ve been pretty undecided on whether or not to write a post for David Copperfield. This isn’t because I didn’t enjoy the book (I enjoyed it immensely), but because it is a classic, and I don’t think it really needs a “review”. Also, it’s such a huge book – where would I begin?
It being such a long book, it also felt really weird when I finally finished it. I suppose you could say that it was kind of like driving along a road for an incredibly long time, and then suddenly going off a cliff – and it’s that moment when you’re suspended in mid-air, and you realise that that’s it, and you don’t know what to do next.
Well, ok, maybe not quite that dramatic. I did just say that you could say that, not that you should, or that I would say that.
What made finishing David Copperfield even weirder was the fact that I had used one of the closing paragraphs in a high school English assignment. In grade 12 (?) we had this assignment to write a eulogy for someone famous, pretending to be some sort of acquaintance of the deceased. I’d already entered my Charles Dickens phase by then, so of course I chose him. I suppose this also means that I’d bought this copy of DC about nine years ago, and it took that long for me to finally get around to reading it… And I thought the many years I’d waited to read Atonement was bad enough!
Anyway, it was kind of bizarre coming across those lines again. Of course, the words were familiar to me because I’d memorised my entire eulogy for that assignment. Coming across that paragraph, it was like seeing a good friend again …for the first time in almost nine years. I’m going to include the paragraph below, for old times’ sake (I don’t think a spoiler alert is necessary, since it doesn’t really spoil anything)
And now, as I close my task, subduing my desire to linger yet, these faces fade away. But, one face, shining on me like a Heavenly light by which I see all other objects, is above them and beyond them all. And that remains.
Truly beautiful, isn’t it? Just like a lot of Dickens’s writing.
What I was really impressed by, considering the magnitude of the story, was how all the stories became interwoven, and how all the characters had a role to play. Sometimes when I start off reading a novel (particularly one that is very long and/or complex), I kind of wonder if certain side characters are actually that important, or if they’re just making an appearance in that one scene. Usually I make sure I’m paying attention, just in case they pop up again later, but I only have so much memory space…
But it’s good that a lot of the characters are quite memorable anyway. Apart from the protagonist, who was referred to as “Trotwood” by certain other characters, some of my favourite characters were:
- Miss Betsey Trotwood (David’s Aunt) – has a rather peculiar introduction, but later returns to the story as a peculiar yet likeable character
- Mr Peggoty – lives in a ship-cum-house next to the ocean; looks after those with nowhere else to go (Emily, Ham, Mrs Gummidge). His manner comes through in his speech
- Thomas Traddles – a schoolfellow of David’s, notorious for his untameable hair (I’ve mentioned his “fretful porcupine” quote in a previous post), but also just a very delightful and pleasant character
- Agnes Wickfield – very kind and patient friend of David after he moves in with his Aunt
- Dora Spenlow – potentially annoying to some people, but I thought she was hilariously naive and very adorable
I finished reading DC in just under three months (January to March, inclusive) so I easily met my target. However, due to other events of this last week or so, I feel like I’ve been left more exhausted (mentally and emotionally) than I might otherwise have been. I knew before I finished DC that I could not launch straightaway into reading another epic (I’d originally planned on reading Anna Karenina next), but this so-called “book hangover” is lasting longer than I’d anticipated, so perhaps it’s a good thing to have written this to offload some of my thoughts.
Maybe my mind will be a bit more settled now, and I can focus on the next novel. I’m hoping that the consolation of being able to re-read or revisit DC whenever I feel the need to, will also help me move on. I just need to remind myself that this is not the absolute end.
2 thoughts on “suspended in mid-air”
I love David Copperfield and it has been so long, it might be time for a reread. But, you are right, one classical tome a year might be plenty. Although Anna Karenina is fabulous.
I am still determined to read it this year! (just not right now)