Bleak House – Dickens Challenge – Almost Time!

A few weeks ago, I let Dickens lead us into a very foggy and polluted London.  I didn’t continue with that first chapter, but if I had, I would have led you to the equally murky civil law of Dickens’ day.  There we would have first heard of the infamous law suit, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which forms the basis of the first, outer, plot of Bleak House.

In chapter two, we go out on that same bleak day but move to a far, far more fashionable part of Town where Dickens introduces us to Lady Deadlock, a woman who couldn’t move a finger without the action being reported by the fashion journalists in the leading three papers.  The fashion world knew she had bored of Lincolnshire and was spending a few days in Town before crossing to Paris for a short visit.  After Paris?  Not even the leading fashion experts could guess.

Lady Deadlock’s husband, Sir Leicester was also in Town (and also going to Paris, but frankly, nobody cared).  Although he was only a baronet, his family was as old as the hills, and far more respectable than the hills.  In fact, Sir Leicester could imagine a world without hills, but not a world without Deadlocks (yes, I stole that from Dickens).  Sir Leicester at 70 was still dashing, if no longer quite in the prime of his life.  And despite his complete devotion to the traditions of the past, he had married out of love and so didn’t mind that she had no family (he had plenty to spare…) and wasn’t in the same economic class as he was.  And he continued to dote on her as much as he did the day they were married.

At 50, the Lady Deadlock was in the prime of her life.  She was strikingly beautiful and held herself in a way to make her seem taller than she actually was; stand out.  She embodied the best characteristics of the females of her class and knew it.  She was cold and haughty, her beauty seen as a marble on Mt. Olympus, not a mere mortal. 

And she was as inscrutable as that marble Hera.

So imagine Sir Leicester’s lawyer, Mr. Tulkinghorn’s, surprise when he noticed some emotion in my Lady.  Not that he would ever show surprise, not he, a man that knew more secrets about the present aristocracy than the present aristocracy knew had existed in the last 1000 years, since Alfred’s day.  His face was even stonier than Lady Deadlock’s.

Lady Deadlock.

How would one of the leading lights of the top one percent of the top one percent (a true 00.01%-er) recognize the hand writing of a copyist, the lowest person on the totem pole of law, part of a nameless rabble?  A pair of her socks would cost more money than a man like that was likely to see in a year.  Two years.

Mr. Tulkinghorn, of course, had a secret resentment against Sir Leicester, one that he could never even think about, let alone act upon.  But the Lady Deadlock, who was not one of his clients, who was not born into such nobility?

He would find her secret.

And thus begins the second plot of Bleak House, the mysteries of Lady Deadlock.

Sound intriguing?  Well, join us in our Bleak House Challenge!

Yvette Prior and myself are doing a Bleak House challenge, like the Little Dorrit challenge we did last year.

We are planning on having a series of posts on or around the 9th of June. Actually, I plan on a series of posts that week, perhaps from Sunday, June 5 to Saturday, June 11. That is less than two weeks away!

Not only are Yvette and myself going to do a series of posts, we want others to get involved. We would, of course, love to have others do Bleak House posts themselves, but also encourage discussion on our posts. As an incentive, we are going to put the names of the participants into a drawing for an Amazon gift certificate so you can buy more Dickens’ books. OK, just more books, they don’t have to be Dickens… ;)

This is a long book so you need to get a head start! And I will let you know right now that, unlike last year when I waited for the last minute, I have already finished reading Bleak House! So go get your copy now! No money for books until you win that gift card? You can get a free version here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1023

There have been a few posts about this . Here they are so far:

Yvette’s opening post
My opening post
Yvette’s reminder post (includes other material)
My Reminder Post
My Month Countdown Post

Yvette has also mentioned the challenge on her blog a few times, like here, here and here.

It’s only a couple of weeks away, start reading now ;)

23 thoughts on “Bleak House – Dickens Challenge – Almost Time!

  1. Pingback: Dickens Challenge – Bleak House Recap Post | Trent's World (the Blog)

  2. Pingback: Bleak House Day 1 – Overview | Trent's World (the Blog)

  3. Pingback: Dickens Challenge – Bleak House Intro Post | Trent's World (the Blog)

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Robbie. I hadn’t read it before and did very little research before starting, but after getting through it I am not surprised that my little research showed it at the top of quite a few readers’ list of favorite Dickens’ novel. I think it is Dickens at his very best.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Last year our Dickens’ Challenge was done almost on a whim, so we thought it out a little more this year. It’s been a lot of fun! I hope you do get a chance to re-read it.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Yeah, I can understand “plodding” – that is about how I was with Little Dorrit last year. Hope you are enjoying digging your way through that maze of words…

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  4. Prior...

    Hi Trent! This was a great reminder post with the care you put in some juicy opening details.

    Did I mention that I watched the Beale house mini series a while back and I could not remember much – well I put it on last week (while multi tasking ) and realized that this book might be another example of a story that does not translate well to Film!
    Sigh – the mini series is completely boring whereas the book pages are an experience – and I think you showed that here.

    I am
    Excited about your multiple posts you have lined up!
    So curious as to how that will unfold – and if they are as tasty as this post- well I think they will be a rich online resource !!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I can understand why it might be difficult to put on the screen. A lot of what I found interesting are the nuances that would be hard to capture.. For instance, Esther only says nice things about Mr. Skimpole (at least for the first half or two thirds), but you can tell she doesn’t like him. How can you portray the contradiction between her words and how she really feels, which happens in a few places?
      Thanks, Yvette :) It’s been a lot of fun pulling these posts together. I hope the ones I have planned for the “Dickens Week” come across well.

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      1. Prior...

        Yes – hard to depict certain things – and even Lady Deadlock’s beauty is stunted in the movie because we “see what we see” with the character who plays her – vs getting the rich descriptions that give more layers.

        Hope you have a nice Wednesday

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          Yes, she would be hard to depict because she is described as haughty and such, but the reader gains sympathy for her very early. Not sure how you can do that in a movie!

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              1. Prior...

                Working on it and enjoying it.
                I also finished the 2005 mini series – which was better than the 1985 one / but still always prefer the book for this story (as noted before)
                And hope you have a great day too!
                The rain all week was nice at first but now I need/want some sunshine

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