Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Something Different to Try

My friend Susan is recommending that we read Dombey & Son, by Charles Dickens, in its original serial form, and that we do so together. Not just Susan and me, but all of us! We should all stick to the same schedule, and we should use her blog to talk about each installment when we have finished. Susan recommends getting a copy of the Oxford edition, edited by Alan Horsman, which indicates the original serial portion at the top of each lefthand page. We read two sections a week and Susan posts some thoughts about each section on Mondays and Fridays. We are invited to comment.

But oops! This whole escapade began on June 2 without me. Luckily I still have time to catch up. It turns out Wikisource has the whole text of Dombey & Son (because it's in the public domain) and the Wikipedia article about Dombey & Son has the original serialization information (click on "Original publication" in the Contents box). From that list you can determine which chapters to read for each section.

(Note that this blogger Susan is NOT Susan B. from the comments, but a different Susan whom I know in the flesh. Welcome to Blogger, Susan!)


Anonymous said...

However, the Susan B. of your comments knows that novel quite well (and all of Dickens, for I studied with Dickens scholar Steven Marcus). Dombey is one of my favorites. And my dissertation is about serial novels, and the experiences of those who read them, piece by piece, week by week.

I read them the same way in the library at Wesleyan University (my hub teaching there when I was finishing my diss.) which, fortunately, had a huge 19th-century periodical collection, donated by somebody. Even then, in the early '90s, the paper it was printed on was disintegrating, so much of it must now be lost.

It is a small world, after all, and some connections do seem serendipitous. I'll be interested to watch your progress and I have some things to add about reading serially. To get the full flavor, you would need a hard copy of the original magazine (was it "All the Year Round"? I can't remember. D&S probably predates that and I don't have all my Dickens lore beside me right now). What you are going to miss in your reading are the advertisements, illustrations, and other articles surrounding the serial. Those things influence you, though you may not realize it.

And when I went to revisit some of the serial novels on microfiche, I was horrified to discover much of the magazines were left out -- many of the illustrations, the advertisements, the classifieds. A very, very different experience. As is sitting with a hard copy of something in your hands, emitting its Victorian odor, as opposed to sitting at a glowing screen and reading scentless words.

Still, you'll get the Dombey experience bit by bit. I wanted to name my daughter 'Florence' after the heroine of htat book but was not allowed. At least we didn't have to name her "Veronica" (from the Archie comic books), which is what the hub wanted.

Bybee said...

I'm sooooooo tempted, because a copy of Dombey and Son called out to me during my last trip to the bookstore. It called out in an English accent, too! Don't know if it was the same edition. I have such guilt about Dickens...I should like him better, but don't. I want to though. Anyway, have fun, Susan B...I'll probably drop into your blog to see how it's going.

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