Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Bleak Along - There are no dragons in this story, are there?

We made it; it's time. Today marks the first post in our wonderful Alice's Bleak House Readalong. We're doing away with introductions (by this time I know you guys like the back of my ha-OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT) and discussing chapters 1 through 11. So, to that end,

*jumps through your window*

would you like to talk about Bleak House? I've only read through the end of chapter 6 (HAHA THIS IS GOING SO WELL), but I hope to distract you with GIFs and quips like ... nope, I just looked through my notes and there's no quippy material there. It'll have to be the GIFs, then. 

Who's worried? I'm not worried.

I bought the Penguin Classics clothbound edition, 

because pretty,

and I was a bit daunted at the beginning, because there were thirteen endnotes on the first page of the first chapter. That is too many. We're just talking about fog. I am concerned. But I'm finding myself mainly ignoring these unless I'm actually confused about something. Plenty of helpful notes on Chancery, for example. 

But the story. We hear about the fog; we read what's got to be one of the first instances of the phrase "blew his brains out" (pg 16 in my edition); Mr. Sladdery the librarian waxes Gilbert and Sullivanesque, repeating "of my high connexion, sir," with all the grace of a modern major general (pg 25); and finally we come to Esther's narrative. 

Oh, Esther. You with your Jane Eyre backstory and your complete lack of guts. I am not particularly fond, you guys. Ada's a bit nothing, too. The Jellyby ladies, at least, have personalities  Mrs. with her passion for Africa and disinterest in family, Miss with her unparalleled expression of teenage angst ("I wish Africa was dead").

I have an urge to pat her on the head.

It's taking me a bit to get into the story. I mean, when we get to Bleak House, Dickens walks us through what feels like every room of the house, describing every piece of furniture in every room. I mean, I just. It's getting better, though. We're getting to the characters now. For example John Jarndyce and his blame-taking east wind (anyone else go immediately to "His Last Vow" [Sherlock season finale] with that one? Cry a little, maybe? Search for a GIF of John saying "There's an east wind coming" for half an hour and break your heart all over again?

Dammit, self).

So, higher hopes for next week, in which I will catch up with you guys if it's the last thing I do. I am SO HAPPY to be reading along with you lovely internet dwellers again. Thanks for bringing us together, Alice.


  1. Omg have you not even gotten to Mrs Pardiggle and her scowling, angry children? Fantastic.

    ESTHER IS GREAT and the narrative will totes pick up in a hurry.

    1. I just got there! Just finished "Covering a Multitude of Sins." That scene at the brickmaker's house - holy crap. That was fantastic.

  2. The Sherlock gifs are an excellent choice for distraction. And just in general. Mmm Sherlock.

    "there were thirteen endnotes on the first page of the first chapter. That is too many. We're just talking about fog." Ahaha THIS

    I have found myself skimming points when Esther isn't talking or she's doing things like describing the house. I'm also kinda skimming through SparkNotes to see if my previous skimming means I missed something important (so far, I don't think so.)


    Also I am glad that a) I have an edition without endnotes and b) that finally someone else appreciates Miss Jellyby's teenage existential crisis.


      I'm definitely just ignoring the endnotes now, which works for me. Oh, Miss Jellyby! How you're surviving without black nail polish I'll never know.

  4. I was finding it kind of droll and hard to get into, but by around chapter 10 I was like "Oh man this is getting good".

    Esther is totally the type I normally wouldn't like, but damn Dickens totally got me to feel really depressed for her in the beginning there, so now I like her. And she does other good AND amusing things.

    YAYAYAYYYYY readalong tho!

    1. I just finished and quite liked chapter 8, so I'm glad to hear it's getting good!

      Esther definitely has a depressing beginning. That bit with her birthday and her godmother only acknowledging it in saying they'd all have been better off if Esther had never been born? That is some hurtful shit for a kid to hear.

      DOUBLE YAYAYAYAYYYs for readalongs!

  5. You can crash through my window ANYtime. *wiggles eyebrows*

    I have SEEN the Sherlock S3 finale and I GET that comparison now that you point it out. And since I'm normally really behind on Things Other People Watch, this is a pretty big deal for me. I'm gonna bask in this moment for a minute.

    . . .

    OK but yeah, I think the second half of this week's reading is a little more fast-paced than the first, so you should be getting more invested right about now. Onward!

    1. *installs candy glass windows just in case*

      I'm already more into it than I was when I wrote this last night, and I'm only two chapters further in. So high hopes, is what I'm saying.


  6. OMG so many notes on that first page, right? I was like GO AWAY NUMBERS, THIS IS NOT WHAT I CAME HERE FOR.

    Leave Esther alone though, yeah? She's had a tough life, man!

    1. Poor Esther! It's true. It's just, she's so SOPPY at the beginning.


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