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24 november 2015

Bleak House is the most flawed of Charles Dickens's better novels. It is too big for its own good, stocked with enough characters to populate three or four other novels. Half of it is narrated by the unbearable Esther Summerson – an inexplicable structural decision. The wheels of the massive plot grind surely but often reflect the inertia that is one of the novel's themes, as if the torpid litigation of Jarndyce & Jarndyce infected the narrative method of Bleak House itself. I have long admired Bleak House, and this is at least my fourth time through the novel, but I may not read it again. I no longer find it sufferable enough to sit through in its entirety. That said, there are some amazing things in it, and if you've never read it, you should.     read more

23 november 2015

Henry VI, Part 2 is an obscure but energetic play that shows Shakespeare tackling some big issues and broad historical themes. It's a puzzle why it's not better-known or more performed. It's somewhat episodic and lacks a true starring role, but ensemble companies tend to like plays with lots of good parts, and audiences don't mind episodes if they're good ones.     read more

19 november 2015

Black Money (1966) is one of the lesser Lew Archer novels, and my comments will be brief.     read more

16 november 2015

Henry VI, Part 1 is not exactly a great play, but it's got energy and directness going for it, and seems to have made an impression on the rare occasions when modern companies have tried performing it.     read more