November 30, 2009

Simple. Great. Writing. Hard Times.

If you are into brevity, I could sum up Stephen King's book "On Writing" as follows: read a lot and write a lot.

One author I recommend for everyone, but especially for writers, is Charles Dickens. His character studies are genius. Please continue......

One of five reading assignments for this week: Hard Times by Charles Dickens. 288 pages. Plus the introduction comprising 37 pages. Deadline: Thursday.

The writing is brilliant. Funny. Cool. The scenes, the people, rise up before you with such I remember how I felt when I first read "David Copperfield." (and why its on my all-time favorite list....cause I kinda forgot) Plus, while sharing this with you, I am also absorbing crucial facts, which I'll need for the exam.

Hard Times was published in installments in 1854 in Household Words, a weekly journal.

Setting: Coketown, England. 1853. A fictional generic northern town. England in the midst of the Industrial revolution.

All the writing below is from magnificent Mr. Dickens. I am choosing bits and pieces and it will give you an idea of the story and of his writing.


Schoolmaster Thomas Gradgrind, sir: "Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but FACTS. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. "

[A description of Mr. Gradgrind]:

The emphasis was helped by the speaker's square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while overshadowed by the wall.
The emphasis was helped by the speaker's mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set.
The emphasis was helped by the speakers's voice, which was inflexible, dry and dictatorial.
The emphasis was helped by the speaker's hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts store inside.

In this life, we want nothing bur Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!

The speaker , and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels [the schoolchildren], ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim.

Mr. Bounderby:

Who was Mr. Bounderby?

Why, Mr. Bounderby was as near being Mr. Gradgrind's bosom friend, as a man perfectly devoid of sentiment can approach that spiritual relationship towards another man perfectly devoid of sentiment.

He was a rich man: banker, merchant, manufacturer, and what not. A big, loud man, with a stare and a metallic laugh. A man made out of a coarse material, which seemed to have been stretched to make so much of him. A man with a great puffed head and forehead, swelled veins in his tempes, and such a strained skin to his face that it seemed to hold his eyes open and lift his eyebrows up.

He had not much hair. One might have fancied he had talked it off; and that what was left, all standing up in disorder, was in that condition from being constantly blown about by his windy boastfulness.

Simple. Great. Writing.


Jm Diaz said...

I enjoyed your post very much.. and yes, your summary of Mr. King's book is spot on!

Oh, and a big YAY to Charles Dickens and little Davey Copperfield. I just ready that book with my son a few months ago. Great stuff.

Tatiana Lensky said...

thank you very much! I wrote a review of Kings book - its gonna be on some guest blog next week. I'd very much like your opinion. Will let you know when it appears.

( I wish my son would read more, unfortunately, he's past the age of me reading to him...; )

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