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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
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Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 27 Apr 2015 18:08:18 -0700
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Friends of the Dickens Forum,

     Two more voices ask to say their say on the first sentence of 
Grahame Smith and Christine Maiocco.  Their comments effectively bring
this thread to its end.  Thank you all.      (pjm)

Here is Grahame Smith <[log in to unmask]> :

     I for one am grateful to Robert Newsom for reminding us of the 
brilliance, profundity
even, of Marcus's thought.  "Engels, Manchester and the Working Class' 
remains for me
one of the truly great works of scholarship in the field.

Grahame Smith (Emeritus, Stirling)
Christine <[log in to unmask]> describes herself as "one of today's 
readers" who...

from my first reading, found the opening sentence of *Pickwick Papers* 
to be perfect for the
story.  It is old fashioned and cumbersome, yet it evokes what follows 
precisely.  *Pickwick*
follows *Sketches by Boz* both chronologically** and stylistically - 
both are the reports and
observations of a commentator to the public.  Pickwick and his fellows 
are “obscure” and
it is only with the “cover[sion] into a dazzling brilliancy” by “the 
editor of these pages” that
“the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick” and 
his friends could ever
be interesting to the reader.

The “careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice 
discrimination”, i.e., the narrative
skill of “the editor”, is what sheds “[t]he first ray of light which 
illuminates the gloom”
of “the multifarious documents” of the Pickwick Club. The reader, at 
least this reader,
understands that the adventures that follow will not be interesting in 
and of themselves
but will be interesting because of the way they will be told. And this 
opening sentence
explains that point. It may be a tedious sentence, but it is a sentence 
in character. And ...
I am glad there was no modern-day literal agent or publisher to meddle 
with it.

Christine Maiocco

** Ed. Note:  *Sketches. Second Series,* ending with "The Drunkard's 
Death,' was published
in 1837.