Thursday, September 24, 2020

77. The Gospel in Dickens

The Gospel in Dickens: Selections from His Works. Charles Dickens. Edited by Gina Dalfonzo. Foreword by Karen Swallow Prior. 2020. 264 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Good literature is fresh water for the soul. While some writers offer a sip ladled from the well, Dickens takes us to a mountain waterfall where rushing waters saturate, overwhelm, and put us at risk of drowning as we drink. But fear not. This book of selected readings is more like a gentle brook whose waters will quench the thirst of Dickens’ aficionados and neophytes alike. I know this volume will attract those who know and love Dickens already. But I hope it woos those who have yet to drink from his depths.

Only read this book if you want to struggle with the dilemma of what Dickens book to pick up next. I jest. 

I definitely enjoyed reading The Gospel in Dickens, and would happily recommend it to any and all who enjoy Victorian literature and/or the classics.

The book is divided into three sections: Sin and Its Victims, Repentance and Grace, and The Righteous Life. Each section has excerpts thoughtfully selected and introduced by the editor Gina Dalfonzo. 

Before reading The Gospel in Dickens I wouldn't have thought much of Dickens being a Christian--or not being a Christian. I probably would have assumed that he believed in God to some extent, perhaps attended church services, held Christian values and morals to some degree. But I wouldn't have really thought here is a man who knows and loves the Lord. The truth is when you read all these excerpts together it paints a powerful portrait of a man who does just that--love the Lord and love the Word of the Lord. 

This one features excerpts from 
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Great Expectations
  • Hard Times
  • Bleak House
  • Oliver Twist
  • Sketches by Boz
  • Martin Chuzzlewit
  • Our Mutual Friend
  • Little Dorrit
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • David Copperfield
  • Nicholas Nickleby
  • The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain
  • The Life Of Our Lord
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Dombey and Son
  • personal letters

My background? I have a BA and MA (bachelor of arts, master of arts) degree in English literature. I love and adore Dickens. Perhaps he's not my absolute favorite, favorite, favorite, favorite Victorian author. (That may be Gaskell or Trollope). But I love Dickens. I have often found that it takes reading each book twice to really go from like to love or love to REALLY love, love, love. There is something substantive and unforgettable about his characters and stories. I have read all but three of his novels. I've read most of them twice--though not all. Every January I start off thinking this will be the year where I read TONS of Dickens. But usually I just manage one or two. Not from lack of desire--but from a million or so books competing for my attention saying read me, read me, read me. Dickens doesn't push himself forward into the fight to be read. But there are certain times of the year when I seek him out. 

As I was reading this one I kept thinking, I HAVE to reread this one. Then I'd go onto the other excerpt and it was, NO, I have to read THIS one. I may never make up my mind!!! 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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