Saturday, April 02, 2016

Currently Reading (2)

Selections of Charles Dickens's journalism, part of background research for a thing I'm working on as a break from the novel I'm supposed to be writing. I love the moments when he turns his acute perception on himself, like this, from the end of 'Gone Astray', an essay about a child's eye view of the terrors and wonders of London's densely populated maze:
The venerable man took me to the nearest watch-house; -- I say he took me, but in fact I took him, for when I think of us in the rain, I recollect that we must have made a composition, like a vignette of Infancy leading Age. He had a dreadful cough, and was obliged to lean against a wall, whenever it came on. We got at last to the watch-house, a warm and drowsy sort of place embellished with great-coats and rattles hanging up. When a paralytic messenger had been sent to make inquiries about me, I fell asleep by the fire, and awoke no more until my eyes opened on my father's face. This is literally and exactly how I went astray. They used to say I was an odd child, and I suppose I was. I am an odd man, perhaps.

Incidentally, has anyone ever analysed the influence of Dickens on Gene Wolfe, with especial reference to Severain's voice in The Book of the New Sun?

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