July 20th, 2010

earthsea

July Books 13) Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

One of several classic Dickens books which I had not previously read, and which eventually worked to the top of my list. I am sure that it was spell-binding social commentary in 1838, but the character of Oliver seemed to me much too good to be true. Any child coming from that sort of brutal institutionalised background would have pretty serious psychological issues; in fact all Oliver need is a comfortable bed and a cuddle and he turns into an angel. The implication is that Oliver, as a Good Boy, is therefore part of the deserving poor, and the Artful Dodger and so on, as Bad Boys, are part of the undeserving poor, a distinction I find rather invidious - copper-fastened at the end by the fact that Oliver does inherit wealth, but on condition of his goodness rather than his absolute rights as his parents' son. There seems little room for redemption, and Nancy, the fallen woman who tries to redeem herself, gets killed off. The portrayal of Fagin must surely have appeared gratuitously anti-Semitic even by 1838 standards. I'm glad that I have read and enjoyed later Dickens, because I think if I had started here I would have written him off.
tardis

Situation Vacant

Yet another new series starting from Big Finish, this time with Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor auditioning four potential new companions in a set-up intended more for comedy than common sense. Not all of the potential companions are exactly who or what they say they are; I thought the show was stolen by Joanna Kanska as the manager at the hotel where it all took place, rather than by any of the formal contestants. Lots of stuff happening but it didn't quite hang together for me.