Happy October everyone!
Like December was Dickens’s favorite month and Christmas his favorite holiday, October is my favorite month of the year and Halloween/Day of the Dead my favorite celebration. It also happens to be my birthday month, so that just adds to the fun.
This is why I am so incredibly happy that I will be reading one of my favorite of Dickens’s novels this month. So, here it is, my next adventure: The Old Curiosity Shop.
When I first started this project, I had intended to read all the Dickens’s novels I had yet to read, which were mostly his early novels. But I got so invested in the project I decided to re-read them as well and this will be my first reread. My goal is to finish reading all his novels before I turn thirty, which will be in October two years from now, that will make it 11 books in two years! I hope I can make it!
But back to my next read.
The Old Curiosity Shop is, sadly, not a popular Dickens’s novel and it hasn’t been read as often, probably because Nell’s plot is quite sentimental (a popular thing for the time). But it truly is a very rich novel and, in my opinion, definitely worth reading.
In the Preface to the First Cheap Edition of The Old Curiosity Shop published in 1848, Dickens writes:
I had it always in my fancy to surround the lonely figure of the child with grotesque and wild, but not impossible companions, and to gather about her innocent face, and pure intentions, associates as strange and uncongenial as the grim objects that are about her [in the curiosity shop]
And this is truly the best summary of the story. However, as it often happens in Dickens’s novels, some of the minor characters take the story and run away with it and, in this case, make a fantastic side story happening alongside Nell’s. You just have to read it to believe me.
I first read this novel in April of 2013, when I had just begun my affair with Dickens, so it was due for a reread.
It has some of my favorite elements of Dickensian fiction: the presence of the supernatural, the grotesque, the fairy-tale-esque in its “Realism.”
To me, Dickens is the only author who can have imps, ghosts, ghouls, and just any kind of supernatural element in a very realistic setting without us having to call it Fantasy. It is simply real in the realm of the novel and quite possible in our own realm. I argue that, in Dickens’s fiction, this presence of the supernatural actually enriches the realistic elements of his fiction (like his social criticism and political satire, for example) and he can be more critical about his culture and his world when he is writing supernatural stuff. But, by all means, disagree with me, just read the novel.
Actually, I am planning to become more active in the months and years to come. I am really excited about this project and I just want to be more involved. This is why I decided to open an Instagram account, which you are welcome to follow, and to encourage you to read along with me.
In lieu of this last point, I decided to share my reading schedule with you, dear reader.
If you have always wanted to read this novel or you haven’t read it yet, please join me and share your thoughts with me!
I am going to try to commit to this reading schedule so I don’t suffer like I did with Nickleby which took me longer than expected and to post every Saturday (Master Humphrey’s Clock was out on Saturdays) with some discussion points.
So, dear reader, have you read The Old Curiosity Shop? Would you like to? Let me know in the comments.
And, as always, thank you for reading and may we meet again!