My experiment with audiobooks is paying dividends. Having gone through Treasure Island, I’ve turned to another classic I’ve long meant to read, Great Expectations. I finally understand why they assigned it in high school. I wasn’t a great student, something I still regret, and when they put Dickens on the lesson plan, I never saw the value in reading it. Mrs. Clark, wherever you are, I apologize. Great Expectations was boring. Too many details, too little story. I thought of the narrative as too stuffy and read Terry Pratchett and Roger Zelazny instead.
I’ve since learned that Great Expectations was a newspaper serial, which changes my perspective quite a bit. Some of the repetitive details and phrasing, for example, makes better sense when you know that readers may have gone a month without fresh material. I still don’t find that Dickens to work well in large blocks, like the hundred page weekly readings assigned in sophomore English. Taking it chapter by chapter, or in hour long listenings, creates a different experience. I’m even finding it funny, and I never expected that.