Friends of the Dickens Forum,

We have heard Grahame Smith on the closing of the BBC's "Dickensian."  Edwin Plevljakovic  appears
to agree with Professor Grahame and sends us a review which includes one of the plummiest
passages from *Martin Chuzzlewit*:                                                                pjm
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On 5/16/2016 2:45 AM, Edin Plevljakovic wrote:
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Dear Prof. McCarthy,
 
I might be one of the few out there who welcomed the news about the discontinuation of Dickensian with a nod of approval, if not unabashed joy, rather than groans and boos. Three months ago, when we were fifteen or thereabouts episodes in, I wrote a review of Dickensian, for Herb Moskovitz's excellent Buzfuz, and below you can find an excerpt from it, revolving around the issue of the sorely lacking Dickens' idiom and choice of characters, which I believe Friends of the Dickens Forum might appreciate to read.
 
Best regards,
 
Edin Plevljakovic
Sarajevo
 

In addition to the novels that have not found its way into Dickensian (Oliver Twist is an iconic Dickens’ novel, to be sure, as is Great Expectations and the novella A Christmas Carol), my complaint also extends to the choice of the characters from the novels that have their representatives in the show. For instance, would it not have been a truly rich experience to have seen Mrs Gamp interacting with her husband, especially if we indulge in making inferences on their conjugal life from the following excerpt from Martin Chuzzlewit (the excerpt is also illustrative of Mrs Gamp’s peculiar disposition and speech, which I wish was much more visible in the series):

`Ah dear! When Gamp was summoned to his long home, and I see him a-lying in Guy's Hospital with a penny-piece on each eye, and his wooden leg under his left arm, I thought I should have fainted away. But I bore up.'

 

If certain whispers current in the Kingsgate Street circles had any truth in them, she had indeed borne up surprisingly; and had exerted such uncommon fortitude as to dispose of Mr. Gamp's remains for the benefit of science. But it should be added, in fairness, that this had happened twenty years before; and that Mr. and Mrs. Gamp had long been separated on the ground of incompatibility of temper in their drink.

 

`You have become indifferent since then, I suppose?' said Mr. Pecksniff. `Use is second nature, Mrs. Gamp.'

 

`You may well say second natur, sir,' returned that lady. `One's first ways is to find sich things a trial to the feelings, and so is one's lasting custom. If it wasn't for the nerve a little sip of liquor gives me (I never was able to do more than taste it), I never could go through with what I sometimes has to do. "Mrs. Harris," I says, at the very last case as ever I acted in, which it was but a young person, "Mrs. Harris," I says, "leave the bottle on the chimley-piece, and don't ask me to take none, but let me put my lips to it when I am so dispoged, and then I will do what I'm engaged to do, according to the best of my ability." "Mrs. Gamp," she says, in answer, "if ever there was a sober creetur to be got at eighteen pence a day for working people, and three and six for gentlefolks -- night watching,"' said Mrs. Gamp with emphasis, `"being a extra charge -- you are that inwallable person." "Mrs. Harris," I says to her, "don't name the charge, for if I could afford to lay all my feller creeturs out for nothink, I would gladly do it, sich is the love I bears 'em. But what I always says to them as has the management of matters, Mrs. Harris:"' here she kept her eye on Mr. Pecksniff: `"be they gents or be they ladies, is, don't ask me whether I won't take none, or whether I will, but leave the bottle on the chimley-piece, and let me put my lips to it when I am so dispoged."' (Martin Chuzzlewit, ch. 19)

....

Some of the more legitimate complains might pertain to the character of Dickensian’s Mrs. Gamp, which lacks consistency. There is not much of her nature, as exemplified in the foregoing passage. The moments when it comes through are seldom, and the following is a precious illustration of Mrs. Gamp’s nature as imagined by Dickens. Tending to the bedridden Little Nell, or better still, gorging herself on oysters and treating herself uninhibitedly to gin, she is kindly offered to take her leave by Little Nell’s grandfather, to which she retorts that having seen her into this world, she is dispoged to see her out of it. Such amusing quips characteristic of Mrs Gamp fall into obscurity, being very rare: once she is established as a selfish, inattentive midwife, the intention is immediately abandoned, and she grows to be somewhat bland, with far less Gampian quips (if at all). Similarly, there is no taking a pillow from under a patient’s head, or asking for cucumbers, Mrs Gamp’s stark habits from the novel she appears in. Moreover, I cannot recall a single instance of Mrs Gamp referring to Mrs Harris, Mrs Gamp’s very good, but apocryphal friend, whose name and purported good opinion of Mrs Gamp she uses to advertise her services (although I allow the possibility that a reference or two might have eluded me, as well as that Mrs. Harris might be resorted to in the upcoming episodes). All that we see of Mrs Gamp is a gin-begging old dear, contriving to prevail upon Silas Wegg to have her board at his inn.