I’ve been watching a BBC miniseries version of Bleak House this week (yes, I got it for the title) and it’s awesome. I don’t have a lot of patience with reading Dickens, but watching it is great. According to Wikipedia, Bleak House is “held to be one of Dickens’s finest and most complete novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon.” After just the first two installments, there’s already been a Mr. Krook, the bad landlord, a Miss Flite, the crazy bird lady, and someone named Mr. Guppy. And a minor character will die of spontaneous human combustion! Really, what more could one ask for in a miniseries?
I was in a Dickens mood about three weeks ago, went to the main library, and came home with Dombey and Son, which is a later one. I’m about 200 pages into it and getting my Dickens fix (there are lots of descriptions of somber parlors, a “flaxen-haired” little girl, and someone young has just died), but most people I’ve talked to (okay, only three people, but that’s most of my accquaintance) have never heard of Dombey and Son. I had, distantly, and realized last night it was mentioned by Salinger in Franny and Zooey. I love the italics, so it’s the quote for the day. (A quote from literature, about literature! It’s a good day.) This is Franny speaking, near the end:
“He said he was–this is exactly what he said–he said he was sitting at the table in the kitchen, all by himself, drinking a glass of ginger ale and eating saltines and reading ‘Dombey and Son,’ and all of a sudden Jesus sat down in the other chair and asked if he could have a small glass of ginger ale. A small glass, mind you–that’s exactly what he said. I mean he says things like that, and yet he thinks he’s perfectly qualified to give me a lot of advice and stuff!”
So every time I think or read “Dombey and Son,” it comes out Dombey.