Bleak House Readalong Part 1 – Chapters 1-11

I had made a brief attempt once before to read Bleak House, but didn’t get past the fog, which is like, two paragraphs.   I don’t know why I failed so utterly then, because this time it’s been very enjoyable, even when he’s going on about how awful the Court of Chancery was.   The case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce is legendary even in Chancery.   This case has been going on forever and almost no one knows what it’s about.   Generations have been born, grown up and died during its course and it shows no sign of coming to an end.  In the first sixth of the book, we meet a variety of people from Miss Flite who’s in court every moment the case is on, to the two young and orphaned wards who are brought into the care of Mr. Jarndyce who seems to have kept a mentally-healthy distance from the case along with Esther whom he is also guardian of, though she’s not got a connection to the case that we know of.   The three young people manage to stay just this side of sickeningly sweet.


There is also a wonderful cast of characters interacting with our heroes – Lady Dedlock the proud, wealthy, and extremely bored aristocrat who takes a strange interest in the handwriting of a legal file from the case to which she’s a party.   Mrs. Jellyby whose thoughts are so set on philanthropy in Africa that her home and family are completely neglected.  Her put-upon eldest daughter Caddy who takes dictation on African philanthropy from morning ’til night.  Miss Flite’s landlord Krook, who deals in all kinds of odds and ends and is trying to teach himself to read.  Mr. Skimpole who is a great deal more amusing to our young heroes than he is to me.  A ghost that walks.  Poor Mr. Guppy whose love Esther treats with unbecoming scorn.  And many more.

In following up the interest of Lady Dedlock in the write of that legal brief, the lawyer Tulkinghorn traces him through Mr. Snagsby’s to Krook’s house.  He’s the other roomer, besides Miss Flite and when Tulkinghorn goes in to his room, he finds he has journeyed to the great beyond with the help of some opium.   The doctor is sent for.   The beadle is sent for.  Krook is questioned.   Miss Flite is questioned.   But no one knows anything about the man except that he was kind to a street urchin called Jo.   Who was he?   What is his connection to Lady Dedlock?   Eager to find out, but it’s going to take hundreds more pages, I’m sure.  Thanks to Reading Rambo for hosting!

Eugene Offegin Chapters 5 & 6 (spoilers)

I was finding the story flagging a bit as it seemed to be she loves him for no good reason and he don’t love her.   Not terribly interesting to me.   But then, she had the awesome dream and it really was.  The early 19th century Russian equivalent of the Star Wars cantina in a dream.   And then he has to spoil it all by being a total jerk to his friend and monopolizing his girl.  Tatyana should shoot him.   It’s one thing not to return someone’s affections and quite another to repeatedly dance with their sister on their birthday.   Clueless sister Olga dances the night away with Eugene oblivious to the fact she’s offended her own boyfriend and tortured her sister.   And then we have the pointless waste of a duel.   Has old Eugene never heard of shooting in the air or over their head or something?   Stupidity all around.   The only thing for Eugene to do at this point is join a monastery and repent for the rest of his days.   Jerk.


This is part of the Eugene Onegin readalong sponsored by Tanglewood