Thursday, 17 September 2009

Dombey And Son by Charles Dickens

I have to confess that this is the only Dickens that I have read in its entirety, and that was during a fevered four day reading session when it appeared as an A-Level text. A while back, then....

Dickens, by all accounts, used to keep a well stocked cellar, but I can only recall one particularly boozy episode in Dombey And Son, the second marriage of Paul Dombey to the widowed Edith Granger. The staff at the wedding party start early:

One of the very tall young men already smells of sherry, and his eyes have a tendency to become fixed in his head, and to stare at objects without seeing them. The very tall young man is conscious of this failing in himself; and informs his comrade that it's his 'exciseman.' The very tall young man would say excitement, but his speech is hazy.

And continue in a similar fashion after the nuptials:

All the servants in the meantime, have been breakfasting below. Champagne has grown too common among them to be mentioned...

As is the way of these things, the party is over all too quickly. The bride and groom depart for their honeymoon, and normality must return downstairs. The hangovers are in the post already.

Giddiness prevails below stairs too. The very tall young man whose excitement came on so soon, appears to have his head glued to the table in the pantry, and cannot be detached from it... Mr Towlinson has a singing in his ears and a large wheel going round and round inside his head. The housemaid wishes it wasn't wicked to wish that one was dead.

Alas, the marriage ends in disaster and Dombey is ruined! However, with typical Dickensian plotting, somewhere around the 900th page, Dombey is reunited with his estranged daughter and happiness prevails.

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