Friday, August 15, 2008

The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger

again, each post shall provide only summaries of the assigned chapters. I hope lively discussion of the characters and themes present in each week's reading will appear in the comments section.

chapter one ("I am Born"): young David exhibits wit and self-deprecation as he recounts his own birth and earliest experiences. his father, having died months before, left his mother a small pension upon which she and her servant, Peggotty, plan to raise the child. a wealthy aunt of his father, Mrs. Betsey Trotwood Copperfield, appears. she is convinced young David shall be born a girl; should her niece-in-law name the child after her, Mrs. Betsey Trotwood Copperfield will be its generous benefactor. unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Mrs. Copperfield's baby is a boy. she names him David.

chapter two ("I Observe"): David's mother is young and beautiful. their servant, Peggotty, is old and fat. he loves them both but Peggotty provides more consistent reciprocation as his mother begins to call frequently at a neighbour's home; there she meets Mr. Murdstone. Murdstone comes to their home and, though he possesses dark whiskers and a darker countenance, takes David on an enjoyable trip to the coast. David knows not exactly what transpires but, while there, Mr. Murdstone also meets with some unscrupulous characters. meanwhile, Mrs. Copperfield plans to send David away to Yarmouth for two weeks with Peggotty.

chapter three ("I have a Change"): David and Peggotty visit Yarmouth to stay with the latter's brother. Mr. Peggotty lives in a boat beached and converted to a home with his orphaned niece (Emily) and nephew (Ham) and Mrs. Gummidge, the widow of Mr. Peggotty's fishing partner. despite Mrs. Gummidge's constant complaints, David has a wonderful time in Yarmouth. he kisses little Emily and admits that he loves her but predicts an unfortunate end for the child. on the way home, Peggotty tells him that Mrs. Copperfield married Mr. Murdstone while they were away. David is not as excited as Peggotty by the prospect of his "new Pa!".

chapter four ("I fall into Disgrace"): Mr. Murdstone's sister comes to stay with the new Mrs. Murdstone and her son. the siblings instruct David's mother in the less-than-subtle method of firmness with regard to modifying David's behaviour. made nervous by such hostility, David confuses his recitations. for this he is scolded and beaten. during his flogging, he bites Mr. Murdstone. Murdstone locks David in his room as further punishment. days later, Miss Murdstone brings David food and informs him that he will be sent away to school in the morning.

chapter five ("I am sent away from Home"): Mr. Murdstone puts David on a carriage to Yarmouth. Peggotty stops the carriage on the road to give David some money and the driver questions David about the servant, seemingly interested in the woman
romantically. at Yarmouth, David hires a carriage to London. Mr. Mell meets David at the station. they go to Mell's mother's home for the afternoon and afterward to Salem House. there David is given a placard to wear that he initially assumed was for a dog; on it is written, "Take care of him. He bites". as all the other boys are away on holiday, he and Mell work at the school in the days before the start of the next term.

chapter six ("I enlarge my Circle of Acquaintance"): the headmaster, Mr. Creakle, informs David that he is a friend of Murdstone and a ruthless and unforgiving personage.
the boys take pity on David. the leader of the boys at Salem House is J. Steerforth. David entrusts him with what's left of his money (some having been swindled from him by a waiter at a restaurant in Yarmouth) and is further taken advantage of when Steerforth uses it to buy liquor and sweets for the others. still, this guarantees David a certain degree of protection from Creakle as his daughter and Steerforth care for each other and, as such, Creakle leaves alone Steerforth and his friends.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Idle Chatter

far be it from me to question my father but I warned him against the cultivation of potatoes at Lake Park. his insistence has invited rather unseemly speculation by our neighbours with regard to our family.

the least defamatory of which suggests our need, presumably due to an inability to pay higher prices for foodstuffs out of season, to store food for the winter-- a sure sign of reversed fortunes. the most offensive comments insinuate an Irish heritage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Don't Miss It, Don't Even Be Late

however unfortunate is this juxtaposition and appropriate the resultant metaphor,

none could argue that "BIG BOAR" is not a ridiculous understatement in terms of the actual beast (really, the photograph ought also feature an obese teenager to provide scale).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Apt Recognition

the abhorrent priorities of the nouveau riche aside, the wealthy regularly donate to institutions worthy of their generosity. the Caddinghams deem the agricultural division of the state fair of Iowhampton such a one; the butter cow, flower arrangements and giant squash so featured delight the simple fair-goers.

for such, our names forever pave the walkway to the Agriculture Building at the fairgrounds.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Joyous Occasion

though unconscionable to rank one's relatives, my partiality could hardly be doubted.

today is the birthday of a favourite aunt, Mrs. Dolores Jennings Van der Hoof Walker.

in future, banks shall assuredly follow society's example and enjoy a holiday every eleventh day of August.

Friday, August 8, 2008

First Meeting of the Quiet Desperation Book Club

after imbibing more brandy than should two gentleman sharing a noonday meal, cousin Cecil revealed to me that he never finished The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger.

"there were just too many pages," said he.

obviously, I was scandalized.

then I realized that nor had I ever read beyond chapter six, saying at the time that "[t]here are just too many pages and I really ought to read something else now".

thus we resolved to finish the book together.

as it has been nearly a decade since either of us last attempted to read The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger, both of us will start again at the beginning. and, for a number of reasons (each chapter is so convoluted, other books may strike our fancy in the meantime and we feel no external obligation to finish post haste), we have decided to read only six chapters each week, completing the task by mid-October.

every Friday, I will summarize the chapters from the previous week. I hope others besides myself and Cecil will participate and post their comments after each such installation.

this begins next Friday when I shall recount the details of Mr. Copperfield's birth (chapter one) through the enlargement of his circle of acquaintance (chapter six).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Vanity" License Plate

though ever ready to indulge my appreciation for the ironic, the placement of this proclamation at back of a dented and rusty "Chevrolette pick-up" reveals it as an earnest cry for help made by one truly in need, neither exaggerating nor reveling his situation and certainly not doing so for comedic effect.

I intended to assist the owner of this motorized conveyance until I realized that the money he might need for groceries would have been available had he not spent such on a personalized license plate.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Death in the Family

yesterday I attended the funeral of a miserly uncle. no one shared anything nearing praise of a man whose life was so grudgingly lived but, due to his sizable holdings in Nebraskashire (including the family's original homestead) and the Canadian wasteland of Alberta, all hoped to hear to whom he so bequeathed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

An Evening in Pea Ridge

when not enlisting fire brigades and battling "claims adjusters", I spent time in Pea Ridge, Arkansington. it was the site of a battle during that disastrous conflict between the states.

seemingly, it has changed little in the century and a half since "the ugliness".

a musical group performed at the town's summertime jamboree. several members boast no meager talent. they sang of fire and brimstone as well as salvation and the rapture.

admittedly, I preferred those tunes featuring the latter.

and although the town square at Pea Ridge is no Twelve Oaks,

the Wilkes family never provides such novel diversions at their picnics.