Readalong: Bleak House, instalment 9, ch26-29

The ninth instalment of Bleak House, by Charles Dickens consists of Chapters 26 to 29 — four chapters this month, instead of the usual three — and was originally published in November 1852.

Do join in! You can download the full text of Bleak House from Project Gutenberg and Standard Ebooks, and audiobook versions are available from LibriVox.

For our previous discussions on Bleak House, see:

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Well, what a cliff-hanger this instalment ends on! And how much explanatory back-story Dickens crams into a single sentence!


“O my child, my child! Not dead in the first hours of her life, as my cruel sister told me, but sternly nurtured by her, after she had renounced me and my name! O my child, O my child!”

Yeah, I was wrong… No twins.

I think it shows how confused I got about the age of Milady Dedlock ; I thought her to be much younger… (I guess…)
So many characters…

This is clearly meant to be published/read into installments…
I mean, the intention behind how it is written. Quite comparable to TV shows from the 90 (back when it was still good). (I can’t compare with much that came after that: that’s about when I stopped watching the image box – I couldn’t care less for Kim K – and to say this book is full of them, lol – (People who’s function in life is to be and look refined. Nothing else.))

And now there is this new intrigue developing : the general who owes money to Smallweed…

I imagine all of these intrigues are gonna come crashing down into one another near the end…

It is a formidable mess.

(My apologies if this post makes no sense.)

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It’s quite exciting, actually. It’s just as well that hardly anyone in the book lives by Mr. Bagnet’s maxim for life, or else there wouldn’t be much of a story, never mind the complicated mesh of mystery that is unfurling before us:

“[Mr. Bagnet’s] plain rule is to do nothing in the dark, to be a party to nothing underhanded or mysterious, and never to put his foot where he cannot see the ground.”

Something that I am finding interesting is the way in which Dickens portrays the changes to Victorian life/society/technology at the time. For example, Mr. George (of the shooting gallery) is a country boy who has ended up in the city, as did large numbers of people during industrialisation. And people’s lives were becoming more documented, edging towards today’s world of data collection and monitoring of metrics; whereas Phil Squod doesn’t even know how old he is, Mr. George tracks his own bodyweight daily.

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He doesn’t even know how to count. Up to the point where having once been told he was eight, he thinks the 8 sticks in his age across the years… lol.


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Phil Squod is a very sad character. I think he’s meant to be light relief, and the age-counting thing is certainly funny, in a poignant sort of way; Dickens does whimsical vignettes very well. I once read a book on writing which said that all comedy was rooted in pain – if you don’t pinpoint and exploit the pain in a situation, then it won’t be funny when you write it up as a comic scene. I don’t know how true that might be of comic writing generally, but poor Phil Squod certainly has more than enough pain in his back-story!

I think that by having him constantly moving around close to a wall, like almost leaning into it — sort of —, Dickens is making him an older version of Joe, somewhat.
Like he grew up in the “move along” – “don’t be seen around here” context just the same. (?)

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Good point! They have similarly unfortunate beginnings.