Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Great Expectations. By Charles Dickens

Great Expectations

Charles Dickens

First published 1861. I read the Oxford Classics Edition, published as a paperback in 1994, with an introduction by Kate Flint.

This must be the 5th or 6th time I am reading this book. Not my most favourite Dickens - that place goes to 'David Copperfield' - but one of his best. Somewhat gloomy. The character of Pip is well delineated for most part - there are a few small inconsistencies, particularly with regard to his emotionally mature feelings even when he is barely 10 years old, I guess, when he is first rejected and insulted by Estella and Miss Havisham. I suppose we must forgive such small problems in a book that is as great as this one. The description of his feelings when he first learns of his true benefactor is magnificient. As is his desriptions of his feelings towards Joe and Biddy and finally Estella and Miss Havisham. As with all of Dickens's books, love, softness and gentleness is valued above success and riches and valour.

I must confess to a feeling of deja vu throughout the book, and not just because I have read it before. Pip himself is, by turns, like David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickelby, Estella is faintly like Dora (in 'David Copperfield'), Biddy is like Agnes (again in 'DC'), Wemmick is faintly like Micawber, Jaggers reminds me of Nickleby Sr. the lawyer, Herbert Pocket is like Tommy Traddles in DC, and his Clara is like Sophy. But with all that I loved reading the book for the nth time. Some of the passages literally brought tears to my eyes, e.g. the interchanges between Pip and Joe after Pip has dicovered his true benefactor and realized how badly he has treated Joe, and then he falls ill and Joe faithfully nurses him back to health. Maybe the tears were because I'm much older now - I don't remember feeling so emotional on my earlier readings. Anyway I'll probably read it many times more.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Brothers in Law. By Henry Cecil

Brothers In Law

Henry Cecil

Rupa and Co., New Delhi
First published 1955. This edition 2003.

Another light-hearted book, like 'Doctors in The Nude', this time about lawyers. Deals with the experiences of Roger Thursby who has just been 'called to the bar', his enrollment into the bar council, his first cases, etc. The main tension and continuity in the narrative is caused by the fact that Roger is loved by two girls, both pretty, both nice, one of them, Sally, very smart, and the other Joyce, rich and influential, who can get him cases. Roger likes them both, but finally does not choose either. A very gentle book, no harsh, laugh-out-loud jokes, no sex (unlike Richard Gordon), but also no 'nifties' even, and therefore nowhere as near good as PGW. All the same a book for a train journey or just a relaxed 'time-pass'.

The book appeared topical to me because Shenba, my Tenkasi niece, and her two friends had just the previous week come over from Tirunelveli after their final Law exam results were declared to enroll into the TN bar council here in Chennai.