Wherein we read Dickens’s 1846 travelogue of his Italian journey, the thirteenth (and optional) read of The Dickens Chronological Reading Club.
Friends, who would like to travel to Italy, with Dickens as our guide? For the next three weeks the Dickens Club will read Pictures from Italy, Dickens’s 1846 travelogue of his Italian travels that spanned nearly a year from mid-1844 to mid-1845.
Click here for Boze’s introduction.
Published in 1846 with woodcuts by Samuel Palmer, Pictures from Italy includes the masterfully detailed observation which made his London Sketches so vibrant, and his American Notes so scathing. Perhaps to assuage any fears that it might be another sendup à la American Notes, Dickens assures his readers from the outset that he has no intention to comment on the politics of the country; nor does he intend to do what others had done before him–i.e. he doesn’t intend to “expatiate at any length on famous Pictures and Statues.” Sometimes funny, sometimes Gothic, sometimes lyrical and always full of interest and unique observation, the Pictures is also a great introduction to scenes that Dickens will use later in Little Dorrit.
“This Book is a series of faint reflections—mere shadows in the water—of places to which the imaginations of most people are attracted in a greater or less degree, on which mine had dwelt for years, and which have some interest for all. The greater part of the descriptions were written on the spot, and sent home, from time to time, in private letters. I do not mention the circumstance as an excuse for any defects they may present, for it would be none; but as a guarantee to the Reader that they were at least penned in the fulness of the subject, and with the liveliest impressions of novelty and freshness.”
Pacing, and How to Comment on Pictures from Italy
Pictures from Italy is only about two-thirds of the length of American Notes, so, rather than suggesting chapter divisions for the next three weeks, we’ll just keep this post as the placeholder for the entire conversation on the Pictures. Feel free to read at your own pace, and comment when you’re ready! If you’re not reading Pictures, these three weeks will be an additional “break” or an opportunity to catch up if you’re feeling behind.
Whether reading one book or all with us, we’re so thankful that you’re part of the group. The next weeks would be a great opportunity to do a special-interest post!
Please comment below for all chapters of Pictures from Italy, or use the hashtag #DickensClub if commenting on twitter!
If you’d like to read it online, here’s a link to where it can be read or downloaded at Gutenberg.
Other General Mems
Friends, it is Day 371 of the Dickens Club! Happy New Year!
We’ve tentatively set Saturday, 11 February as the date of our next Dickens Club Zoom chat! 11am PT / 2pm ET / 7pm GMT. I will email out the Zoom link shortly, for the members on my email list. Feel free to email me if you’d like the link, or DM me on twitter! Even if you’re not currently up on the reading, please feel free to join us, as long as you don’t mind potential spoilers! This chat, we’ll be focused primarily on the first four Christmas Books, and Pictures from Italy.
Boze and I have put up a starter page for introductions from hosts/authors/contributors! We’d love to have your bio here, too! Please email me a short (1-2 sentences, up to a paragraph) bio, with a preferred image and how you’d prefer to be called, if you’d like to be on the “core company” page. Of course, we still have our more complete Member List, for those–at least, those I know of–who were/are reading with us! If you’re not on this list and are reading with us for one book or for all, please email me or DM me on twitter!
About the Ongoing Conversations on the Christmas Books
A reminder: in order to give everyone ample time to comment on all the Christmas books (which, chronologically, are interrupted by Pictures from Italy and Dombey and Son), we’ll do one wrap up for all five books once the final one–The Haunted Man–is complete: 10 April, 2023. This will have the added benefit of comparing/contrasting the themes running through each one individually, and all together.
Running list of links for the Christmas book discussions:
- A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
- Click here for Boze’s Introduction to the Christmas books and Pictures from Italy and for the conversation on A Christmas Carol.
- THE CHIMES.
- THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH.
- THE BATTLE OF LIFE
- Coming chronologically after Pictures from Italy.
- THE HAUNTED MAN
- Coming chronologically after Dombey and Son.
Please feel free to keep adding to all conversations!
See you in the comments, friends!