Keri (bloody_keri) wrote in classiclit,

Review - David Copperfield; Charles Dickens

David Copperfield
Charles Dickens
Fiction; Classic Literature

My favorite Dickens novel, and one I pull out again every few years for a re-read. I’m probably drawn to it at least partly because of Dickens’ own partiality to it - he was quoted as calling it his “favorite child”, and much of the material is said to be inspired by his own life experiences. It’s the kind of tale rarely told anymore: just a simple, unvarnished, yet detailed portrayal of a life. Reading it is like perusing the diary of a person much like ourselves – someone who just lives his or her life from day to day, peppered with their own small dramas and adventures, with few things particularly tremendous or earth-shattering on any large scale, except to that person. The Story of Me, so to speak. Again, not the kind of story told very often anymore, presumably due to our need for more far-reaching plot lines and reading experiences that take us out of our normal range of experience. In the Victorian period, however, the serial novel – produced in bits via magazines – were the fad of the day, so readers looked forward to everyday goings-on of the young David Copperfield, whom we get to know, literally, from birth. 

In what I think of as classic Dickens
(and later, Alger) fashion, David as a young boy finds himself at the mercy of adults who should care for him but do not, and after a miserable childhood is eager to make his own way in the world, and this is when his life truly begins. Along the way he meets some of the most memorable of the many unforgettable characters with whom Dickens has populated his novels: David’s loathsome stepfather and step-aunt, the Murdstones, the hysterically loquacious Micawber, David’s dear nurse Peggotty, the frivolous Dora and her fiercely silly dog, the sensible, understanding Agnes, and the detestable Uriah Heep, among many others – Steerforth, Emily, Tommy Traddles, Ham, Mr. Peggotty, Mrs. Gummidge…the list goes on, each character more delightful than the next. Amidst the minutiae are the very real dramas of every day life – a young woman’s ruined reputation, a mismatched marriage made and endured, the ever-hovering threat of poverty and disgrace in a tenuous world, betrayals in both love and commerce, and every small experience of love, struggle, and redemption are played out here. 

For me David Copperfield will always be a treasure of a story, one that spotlights how each of our lives, no matter how seemingly small or unremarkable, are truly enormous oceans of experiences unique to each one of us.  
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