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Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Cricket on the Hearth

Apparently I am stuck in the 19th century right now, after Theodor Fontane I just finished The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens (as a side note: The edition that I have in my possession dates from 1901 and is accompanied by a list of vocabulary as it is intended for German students. I seriously wonder where I got it from, feel like it was handed down to me by grandma via my mom though. In any case, I'd be fascinating to know who bought it and when and what the book must have already seen.). I am not certain I ever read any Dickens, I remotely remember an attempt during my early teens when I read anything that I could get my hands on without necessarily understanding a lot. Anyway, I started out with this short booklet, only about a 120 pages that I finished in a few mere hours.

Dickens made a really good impression on me with this novella. I find fascinating how, in a story filled with characters that are too good to be true and in a descriptive manner that is so tacky it would hurt my brain coming from most other authors, he succeeds to explore realistic topics and difficulties faced by the poor, inept and crippled (blind actually in this case) of his day and age. Problems that furthermore still surface and hold relevance today. There is a sort of universal value to his characters and problem sets. The young girl that is pressed into marrying an older man for the financial security he provides. The white lies people (a father to his daughter in this case) tell each other, which may hurt more than the truth even before they (inevitably maybe) unfold. How companion- and friendship holds more value than financial or professional success (as corny as it sounds, how can anyone seriously argue otherwise?).

If I wasn't committed to reading in French as much as possible and if I didn't already own a collection of English and German books to intervene inbetween and afterwards, I would most definitely read some more Dickens rather soon. As it is, I will put him on my ever-enlarging list of authors and books.

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