Wherein the 2022-23 DCRC is defined, and schedule proposed; Taking its cue from the Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club, the DCRC’s resident Wren promises to “forward, from time to time, authenticated accounts of their [re: her] journeys and investigations…and of the whole of their adventures, together with all tales and papers to which local scenery or associations may give rise.”
Happy New Year, friends of the Inimitable!
UPDATE (13 MAY 2022): WE HAVE AN UPDATED SCHEDULE WHICH CAN BE FOUND HERE.
As my friend Laura and I have commented several times, I hope that this year will be kinder, gentler, more Arthur-Clennamish for all of us. (If you don’t know who Arthur Clennam is…well, I hope you have a chance to explore Little Dorrit, as Laura did with her marvelous #DickensLiveTweet sessions!)
I explained in a previous post about how my #DickensDecember tweets have prompted me to finally undertake a chronological rereading of Dickens’ major works. So, it’s time to lay out a tentative reading schedule for my Dickens Chronological Reading Club. It could be the “DCRC” for short, I suppose? (I wasn’t going to call it a “Club” at first, since I started out with the idea that I was the only one I knew of insane enough to embark on the whole thing*, but I found out that several kind folks would at least be reading the posts for the info, and/or joining in for a book, so why not pay homage to Mr Pickwick and call it a “Club”?)
(UPDATE, Mon morning, 17 Jan: Our #DickensClub is now at 27 members! At least, those I’m aware of who are reading with us!)
A few notes beforehand:
- I’ll be doing the DCRC reading over the course of two years (2022-23). It could easily be stretched out or shortened, but this seems like the right balance. I’ll be starting out more slowly, with only one Sketch per day (Sketches by Boz, Jan-Feb 2022), and then picking up the pace. I wanted to allow myself some flexibility to be reading other things, including Dickens-related materials that might illumine the work I’m reading—and of course, I’ll share interesting tidbits as I learn! (Some months, I might go through the scheduled read in a week or two and leave the rest of the month for reading supplementary materials, or just…something else entirely! For some, I might pace myself throughout the whole period.)
- How I “figure” the chronological order: We know that Dickens wrote and published each serial novel over the course of an extended period (e.g. 18 months). One novel would often overlap with the beginning of another. (With Barnaby Rudge, he had trouble in getting going!) So, my modus operandi is to read them by publication order or in the order in which the first installment or first part of a collection was published.
- Why this method: Granted, I’ll probably be reading certain favorites several times in these next two years (e.g. I can’t stay long away from Pickwick, and I am dying to read Drood again sooner than late-2023). But I wanted to have one complete experience of reading his major canon as closely as I could to the order in which his Muse moved him, to get a clearer sense of the development of Dickens’ imagination.
- What I’m reading: all of Dickens’ major works, stories, and novels. This comprises his fifteen novels, five Christmas books (which are shorter works, like long short stories or novellas), Master Humphrey’s Clock (which is more like a frame or bookend for other work), American Notes, Pictures from Italy, and his collection of nocturnal London walking essays, The Uncommercial Traveller. Of course, Dickens has many published speeches, letters, etc, but I won’t be including these except as supplementary material to add context to the current reading. If you feel there is something I’m missing, please do let me know! 😊
So, without further ado, here is my tentative reading schedule for 2022-23:
|4 Jan to 28 Feb 2022||Sketches by Boz||This is one Sketch per day (56 Sketches), but obviously, the pace is fluid! I’m deliberately starting out a little slower as I catch up on some supplementary material.|
|1 Mar to 11 April, 2022||The Pickwick Papers||I love this timing, because, in spite of a most wonderful Christmas passage in it, I cannot think of a book that has more of a Spring-like, hopeful, randomly joyful spirit.|
|12 April to 16 May 2022||Oliver Twist|
|17 May to 30 June 2022||Nicholas Nickleby|
|July 2022||Master Humphrey’s Clock; The Old Curiosity Shop||Master Humphrey was a kind of narrative device or “frame” for The Old Curiosity Shop until Dickens decided that the latter should stand alone as a novel. If you’re joining in, feel free to just jump straight into TOCS, since Humphrey might be considered a minor work, or supplement.|
|August 2022||Barnaby Rudge|
|September 2022||American Notes|
|October 2022||Martin Chuzzlewit|
|Nov/Dec 2022||A Christmas Carol; The Chimes; The Cricket on the Hearth; Pictures from Italy; The Battle of Life||This looks like a long list, but four of the five are his “Christmas Books” and are the length of a long short story or novella. (Dying to know whether Dr. Pete Orford‘s Pictures from Italy edition for OUP will be available by then…)|
|Jan 2023||Dombey and Son|
|1 to 6 Feb 2023||The Haunted Man||Shorter timeframe b/c it is a shorter work (his fifth and last Christmas Book)|
|7 Feb 2023 to 31 Mar 2023||David Copperfield||I’m stretching it out a bit here. I wanted to give a little extra focus to the marvelous world of David Copperfield, which is also Dickens’ most autobiographical work. Hence, we begin the David Copperfield journey on Dickens’ birthday anniversary.|
|1 Apr to 8 May 2023||Bleak House|
|9 to 31 May 2023||Hard Times|
|1 June to 13 July 2023||Little Dorrit||I’m spending a little more time with this book, simply because I adore it.|
|14 July to 21 Aug 2023||A Tale of Two Cities||I start this reading on 14 July…see what I did there? 😊|
|22 Aug to 18 Sept 2023||Great Expectations|
|19 Sept to 16 Oct 2023||The Uncommercial Traveller||It was challenging to figure out where to fit this in—before or after Great Expectations, since the first of the essays was published earlier—but as Great Expectations’ first installment arrived on 1 December 1860, and the first collection of Uncommercial Traveller came just after (15 Dec), I’ll read it after GE.|
|17 Oct to 20 Nov 2023||Our Mutual Friend|
|21 Nov to 31 Dec 2023||The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished)||Though Dickens’ last (and unfinished) work is shorter, I’ve left ample time for it, in part because I look forward to writing at more length about various theories and “solutions” to the mystery over the years, and the curiosity that is Droodism. I most definitely will be rereading Dr. Pete Orford’s marvelous book here!|