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How to Read a Victorian Novel

If you have always wanted to plow through Dickens or Thackeray or Trollope but didn’t believe you had a decade of your life to invest in the effort, enter Rohan Maitzen, whose hints on the endeavor might just bring you into the camp of those who love Big Brother–or Big Bulwer-Lytton. Maitzen suggests that you take on the Victorians on their own terms:

Bring both your head and your heart: these are books that want you thinking and feeling. While you’re at it, stock up on tissues. You may, like Oscar Wilde, consider yourself too sophisticated to cry at the sentimental bits, but you never know. It might be the tenderness of Silas Marner that gets you, or maybe silly Dora in David Copperfield will surprise you into sniffles–or maybe your downfall will be Mr Harding and his old friend the Bishop in Barchester Towers. If you think you’re immune, start with A Christmas Carol: Dickens has a name for people like you.

If this doesn’t make you want to make another run at Little Dorritt, then I’m not sure what will.

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