This blog will comprise a collection of ephemera, mess and miscellaneous artifacts reflecting on the writer's life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

spontaneous combustion

My favourite bit in Bleak House is when Krook does this:
Here is a small burnt patch of flooring; here is the tinder from a little bundle of burnt paper, but not so light as usual, seeming to be steeped in something; and here is — is it the cinder of a small charred and broken log of wood sprinkled with white ashes, or is it coal? O Horror, he IS here! and this, from which we run away, striking out the light and overturning one another into the street, is all that represents him.

It is one of the scariest bits in Dickens, and also it kind of out does Guy Fawkes and the burning of the Guy.
I am interested in the way objects turned into people and people into objects in Dickens.
Think of the Veneerings:
Mr and Mrs Veneering were bran-new people in a bran-new house
in a bran-new quarter of London. Everything about the Veneerings
was spick and span new. All their furniture was new, all their
friends were new, all their servants were new, their plate was new,
their carriage was new, their harness was new, their horses were
new, their pictures were new, they themselves were new, they were
as newly married as was lawfully compatible with their having a
bran-new baby, and if they had set up a great-grandfather, he
would have come home in matting from the Pantechnicon, without
a scratch upon him, French polished to the crown of his head.

For, in the Veneering establishment, from the hall-chairs with the
new coat of arms, to the grand pianoforte with the new action, and
upstairs again to the new fire-escape, all things were in a state of
high varnish and polish. And what was observable in the
furniture, was observable in the Veneerings--the surface smelt a
little too much of the workshop and was a trifle sticky.

There was an innocent piece of dinner-furniture that went upon
easy castors and was kept over a livery stable-yard in Duke Street,
Saint James's, when not in use, to whom the Veneerings were a
source of blind confusion. The name of this article was Twemlow.
Love it.


JP said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JP said...

Love the bbc's Bleak House - as rich as christmas cake!

Also interestingly (to me anyhow) the beeb's recorded it in High Definition and is thinking about broadcasting HD in london area soon!


Mary Plain said...

I love Bleak House and read it again recently. I have only seen bits of this serialisation but remember the one a few years back with Diana Rigg, amazing.

Kate said...

You must RUSH and see tonight's episode our household is hooked and it is getting better as the suspense kicks in....