Book Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Four Stars)
“Now, I return to this young fellow. And the communication I have got to make is, that he has Great Expectations.”
Dickens at his best. His descriptions resonate with readers a hundred sixty years after he wrote. Told from the point of view of an older Pip, the narrative still manages to reveal only what needed at the time. The foreshadowing and the red herrings are both subtle and intentional.
“we can no more see to the bottom of the next few hours than we can see to the bottom of this river what I catches hold of. Nor yet we can’t no more hold their tide than I can hold this. And it’s run through my fingers and gone, you see!”
It should be no spoiler that Dickens wraps his cast into a mobius loop of relationships, known and unknown. His references to Shakespeare and the King James Bible may miss younger moderns. His rendering of dialectic English may impede some readers.
“Why don’t you cry again, you little wretch?” “Because I’ll never cry for you again,” said I. Which was, I suppose, as false a declaration as ever was made; for I was inwardly crying for her then, and I know what I know of the pain she cost me afterwards.
I read this book over sixty years ago and enjoyed it much more now than then. What changed was me. Then I thought Pip a fool; I still do but now understand that was Dicken’s point.
“If you can’t get to be oncommon through going straight, you’ll never get to do it through going crooked. So don’t tell no more on ’em, Pip, and live well and die happy.”