How to Read Depressing Literature

26 Nov

Susan Wise Bauer gives us all sorts of fabulous tips on how to read in The Well-Educated Mind.  She does not, however specifically address how to tackle Oliver Twist and it seems that some readers are struggling with drudgery, sarcasm, and dismal nature of this novel.  I, however, am eating it up.  While this probably speaks mostly to my disturbed personality I am channeling that dark enjoyment into a few handy tips.

Tip I
Ignore reality.  Pretend like the 19th century England that Dickens illustrates is as fictitious as Bromdingnag and Laputa.

Tip II
Imagine all characters as cartoons.  Add animated gags and tricks, including “Pow!” graphics, tweeting birds flying in circles around people’s heads, and characters that disappear when they turn sideways because they’re so underfed.

Concentrate on the writing, rather than the plot.  Dickens crafts some gorgeous sentences.  Much better than these.  With verbs and everything.  Admire the craft.

Tip IV
Think about all the good that was accomplished by this writing, about how this scathing exposition on society helped to reform and provide aid to those in need.  Warning:  This tip does not work in conjunction with Tip I, so use it judiciously, and only when you are already in a state of melancholy.

Tip V
Buy into the sarcasm.  Laugh at it.  Work it into your conversations.  Maybe even your blog post.  Of course, I would never do such a thing.


Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Oliver Twist


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2 responses to “How to Read Depressing Literature

  1. Christine

    November 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I think especially tip number II will help me. I shall now imagine Sikes’ dog as the bulldog from Tom and Jerry cartoons.

    • Christina

      November 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      Good idea. And, wow, you must have gotten a lot of reading done over the Holiday!


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