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View Diary: Contemporary Fiction Views: Do we want happy endings? (58 comments)

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  •  Both endings of 'Great Expectations' work somewhat (10+ / 0-)

    but I agree that the sadder ending seems more organic with the whole. Dickens did such a fine job of keeping the whole thing down to earth, emotionally, that it jars a bit to make the cold Estella warmer than the heart we've seen so much of.

    Also one of the very few instances when Dickens (very confident of his own work) was swayed by someone else's advice, in giving it the sweeter ending Bulwer-Lytton suggested.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 05:57:12 PM PDT

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    •  Bulwer-Lytton (7+ / 0-)

      can't be trusted with beginnings, much less endings.

      I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

      by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 06:49:53 PM PDT

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    •  Speaking of Dickens (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brecht, RiveroftheWest

      I've never read Nicholas Nickelby, but I saw part of a television broadcast of the Broadway adaptation from (I think) the 1980s.  There is a bit where Nicholas is in a traveling theatrical company and we get to see how the troupe "improves" the end of Romeo and Juliet.  

      It turns out that Romeo's poison isn't really poison so he's not really dead; and Juliet doesn't stab herself; and Benvolio shows up with Mercutio, it turns out that Benvolio is really a girl in love with Mercutio and she spirited him off and nursed him back to health so that he isn't really dead either; and Paris wakes up having swooned from a flesh wound so he isn't really dead either, (but he nobly waives his claim to J. in R's favor) -- it turns out that everyone we thought was dead really isn't.  Except for Tybalt, who was a jerk anyway.  And then the troupe Manager's wife comes on stage dressed as Britannia and everybody sings a patriotic song.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

      by quarkstomper on Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 04:55:12 PM PDT

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      •  I've never read 'Nicholas Nickelby' either, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper

        but that Romeo and Juliet hits two interesting themes.

        One of them is the subject of this diary: The way the Victorians threw out so many of Dickens's tragic endings, replacing them with saccharine ones (I find too much of this taste for the cloying in Dickens's own melodrama). Also, Thomas Bowdler spent the first quarter of the century bowdlerizing the naughty bits out of Shakespeare (and Gibbon et al.). Shakespeare would have ripped him to shreds, just as he did to the folio.

        The other theme is Dickens's love of drama, and laughing at bad actors, and presumptuous directors. He puts them in a few of his books. In the end, he gave so much to his dramatic readings of his own work, that he drove himself to an early grave.

        That is a funny reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 07:08:51 PM PDT

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