Sunday, April 17, 2011

Upcoming Classics Circuit: Austen vs. Dickens!



In honor of the upcoming Classics Circuit duel, I'm posing the question to all my friends in the blogsophere:  Who is your favorite 19th century author, Jane Austen or Charles Dickens?    On the one hand, we have the beloved Ms. Austen, whose works include spunky heroine in domestic situations, looking for love (sometimes in the wrong places).  Her works have inspired countless sequels, prequels, alternate versions, and lots of movie and TV adaptations.  Dickens' works are some of the most popular in publishing history.  Which would you choose?

Honestly, I don't know if I can decide.  As a lifetime member of JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America) I should automatically go with Jane.  Lizzie!  Darcy!  Anne Elliot!  Regency costumes!  I've already made my hotel reservation for the 2011 JASNA meeting this October, which is hosted right here in Texas!

But on the other hand, Dickens created some of the most memorable characters in literary history.  Seriously, who doesn't know the most famous line in Oliver Twist: "Please, sir, I want some more."  And A Tale of Two Cities:   "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time."  And Bleak House, one of my favorite novels (and favorite TV miniseries) of all time.  It has everything -- romance, satire, mystery, social commentary.  And Inspector Bucket, possibly the first police detective in English literature.   And I am determined to go to the annual Dickens on the Strand in Galveston in December.

As much as I love Jane Austen (except for modern sequels), I think I'm going to go with Dickens for my Classics Circuit choice.  I've been wanting to read Dombey and Son for several years, so this is my first choice.  Of course I have about six other unread Dickens works on the TBR shelves.  Even though some of them are shorter, I decided it was better to go with a longer book that I want to read, rather than a shorter book, just because I feel I ought to read it.

If you want to participate in the Dueling Authors Classics Circuit tour, sign up here through Tuesday, April 19.  The link has lots of information about the authors and many of their works.  I look forward to reading all the posts!

17 comments:

  1. I'm excited for this tour, too. My favorite is Austen, but I haven't read a lot by Dickens... I think "A Tale of Two Cities" is the only work of his that I've read. I signed up to read something by both; it'll be a reread for Austen, but I'm hoping that reading something new by Dickens will spur me on to explore more of his works.

    -- Ellen

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  2. Ellen -- if you're looking for a great short(er) work by Dickens, I highly recommend Oliver Twist or Great Expectations. My favorite of his long works is Bleak House but it is a real whopper.

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  3. Yay Dickens! (I'd never even heard of Dombey and Son)!

    I'm doing Austen's Presuasion for the event. Have fun! :-)

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  4. Dombey and Son was one of the first Dickens that I read after I fell in love with him thanks to Tale of Two Cities. I hope you enjoy it!

    You are a stronger, better person than I; I couldn't make myself choose between Austen and Dickens, so I am reading both Sense & Sensibility and Little Dorrit (which will be a reread for me). Huzzah for this tour!!

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  5. Dickens for me. I was quite a latecomer to Jane Austen, so although I love her, she doesn't have the same place in my heart as Charles. I've never participated in a tour before, maybe I'll make this my first one. I'm off to check it out right now.

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  6. Jillian -- Persuasion is possibly my favorite Jane Austen (tied with P&P). I love Anne Elliot! If you haven't read it you are in for a treat.

    Read the Book -- I'm really enjoying Dombey, though are some characters I want to throttle already. I might read Northanger Abbey if I have time though D&S is so long, I don't know if I'll finish the whole thing.

    Joanne -- the tours are really fun, it's great to be introduced to new books and get new perspectives on old favorites. So far I think my favorite tours have been Edith Wharton, Emile Zola and Anthony Trollope. I'm hoping for a Steinbeck tour sometime!

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  7. Oooh, tough one. One of my favorite high school reading experiences was studying A Tale of Two Cities with Ms. Mormile-Kelley -- her notes were so fantastic that I still have the ditto sheets! On the other hand, Jane Austen writes dynamic female characters, and Dickens' women are either deadly (Madame DeFarge, Miss Havisham) or dishwater (Lucy Manette, Little Nell). I'm going to have to go with Jane :-)

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  8. Col -- I agree, Dickens' ingenues are not his strong point. Most of them are so blah. I hated Dora in David Copperfield -- and what was so special about Ada in Bleak House?? I've made some progress in Dombey and Son and so far I like Florence. Hopefully she's not as saccharine as the rest.

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  9. Following your blog because it is awesome. Also, despite the amazing/enduring popularity of Austen, I'm going with Dickens for this, although I'm going to be reading The Old Curiosity Shop, which I don't expect to enjoy a huge amount. But then, the only ones I've really, really liked (despite calling him one of my favorite authors) are Pickwick Papers and Bleak House. And maybe half of Our Mutual Friend.

    Never done the Classics Circuit before! Exciting.

    -Alice @ Reading Rambo

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  10. This is an impossible question! If I'm in civilization, I need Austen for the irony. If I'm on a desert island, I need Dickens for the sheer volume (more to read).

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  11. I found it impossible to choose between the two, so I've committed to reading both Persuasion and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I'm really looking forward to Edwin Drood, despite it being unfinished! I'll be interested to see your thoughts on Dombey and Son - that one appeals to me too.

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  12. Only and always Austen for me, of course! I think the reason I'm not fond of Dickens is being forced to read Hard Times on a course I once did. Love Christmas Carol, though!

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  13. Alice -- thank you! I've heard many people love TOCS, so don't give up hope. OMF is another Dickens I really want to read. And welcome to the Classics Circuit, it's really fun to read all the reviews.

    Jeanne -- I agree, if I had to go on a desert island, I'd want the complete JA AND some big fat Dickens! I couldn't choose, they're different and I
    love aspects of both.

    Helen -- Persuasion is tied for my favorite Austen, with Pride & Prejudice. I have a copy of Drood on the TBR shelves, so I hope your review will inspire me to read it soon.

    Vintage Reading -- Trust me, Hard Times is enough to turn anyone off Dickens. It is my least favorite so far. I think it's only assigned in classes because it's the shortest one. I wonder if Dickens ran out of time and left out all the good stuff -- it is sadly lacking in his colorful side characters and fun stuff. I don't even remember the name of the heroine. Don't give up on Dickens, maybe try Great Expectations or Oliver Twist which are far superior.

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  14. I'm horrible tempted to say "Wilkie Collins" or "Thomas Hardy", but I shall resist. I love both Dickens and Austen. Him for stories and the big picture, her for characters and the small picture. If I had to pick one it would be Jane, but as I've read her every word and it's not the right moment for a reread I'll be reading Dickens. Right back to the beginning with The Pickwick Papers,I think.

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  15. I've read a lot of Dickens and love lots of it, but it's slightly too odd for me! Give me JA every time! I could read her novels over and over again - and do!

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  16. I'm finding I like Dickens more on first read -- great plots -- but I'll always return to Austen for familiar sigh-inducing favorite reads (Particularly P&P).

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  17. Fleur -- I have a soft spot for Trollope myself! Haven't been able to get into Hardy (I've only read Tess, which dragged on forever), but I'll give him another chance. I haven't read Pickwick yet but I also have Sketches by Boz, which I may read if Dombey proves too long.

    Rambling Fancy -- I know, I read JA over and over myself. I just want to make some more progress with my Dickens TBRs.

    Rebecca -- I love both, but JA's works are definitely my comfort reads, especially P&P and Persuasion.

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