Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bleak House

Bleak House has been defeating me for 20 years now. I guess I was spoiled by the amazing television version with Diana Rigg and Denholm Elliot:

I think it was on in the same amazing year that gave us Twin Peaks, GBH, and, er, Star Trek TNG Season 2. But I remember how great it was.

So, I remember how odd I found trying the read the actual book before going to University, how I abandoned reading it at university, and how I've picked it up ever since, read those first few pages about fog, and then put it sadly down. I've even bought repeated copies, as though somehow owning more and more would allow me to read it by osmosis. They all remained unread.

Every time I picked up another book, and I'm not kidding, I've always felt that tiny guilt that I wasn't finally getting on with Bleak House. I've not had this problem with other Dickens books - but there's something about this one. Perhaps it's that the title and the atmosphere are matched to a plot that (for all it's grubby tangles) is really quite simple.

Earlier this year, I tried again. I got quite far, then suddenly found myself reading half a dozen Perry Masons and thinking "Perry would have solved Jarndyce and Jarndyce in an hour and then gone out for cocktails and dancing with Lady Deadlock." Ever since, I've picked it up, got a little further, and stopped.

Finally, wonderfully, I found this:

I'm not sure entirely what to think. It's kind of cheating, especially when poor Hugh Dickinson is doing so much work (he really do do the police in different voices, he do). It's about 30 hours long, and I dread to think how long it took to record. But it means I'm whipping through it.

I am finally going to finish Bleak House.


Rob Stradling said...

Well done.

Thankfully, I've always known better than to ever start it.

Skip said...

500 pages in and it's like War And Peace without the War. So far there's been a small marriage and a roadsweeper's got a cold. The spontaneous combustion of Mr Krook cannot come quick enough.

Caliope said...

But it is wonderful that you went for the 'complete and unabridged' audiobook and not one of those handy abridgements.

Skip said...

Thank you. It would have felt like cheating. It's been a brilliant listen - but I'm accord with the quote that I heard Brian Albiss use - "Dickens' architecture is all over the place, but he has remakrable gargoyles."