Scary stories from a lovely place

Slice o’ opinion pie Sunday: Old vs new fiction

I’m deep in the middle of Dickens’ Bleak House at the moment. I’ve been reading the thing on and off for a couple of years now, but have been working at it pretty solidly for the last few months. I’ve taken one longish break because the length of it was bearing down on me like an anvil, but now I’ve cracked three quarters I’m steaming through.

It’s wonderful. I hadn’t forgotten how much I love Dickens, but it’s been a good reminder all the same. Dickens himself grew up in poverty and so his writing of characters in such situations never feels guessed or as if it had been objectified by a richer figure. His writing style is so eloquent, it so captures the mood of the time and the politics, the range of different people and their lifestyles and the unkind hopelessness of life without relationships and connections.

I’ve never felt the same reading new fiction as I do old. Modern fiction is good, and granted I’m sure I haven’t read enough. But I just can’t find a modern author who does it for me like the old guys do. Maybe Marquez’s ‘100 years of solitude’ or Achebe’s ‘Things fall apart’ or something by J.M Coetzee or Camus or Rushdie or George Orwell could come close to competing with old fiction. But I just don’t know. Modern fiction isn’t as beautiful, as grand or as poignant.

I’m open to suggestions……


One comment on “Slice o’ opinion pie Sunday: Old vs new fiction

  1. fionalynne
    January 31, 2011

    I love Dickens too! It’s always a bit slow going for me too though. I find a lot of older fiction is “slower” in its plot and pace, but somehow the best writers like Wilkie Collins and Jane Austen manage to keep my interest despite the relative slowness of the narrative which I think shows how good they are.

    There seems to be a lot more rubbish these days but that’s probably just due to the volume of books that get published as apposed to when these writers were publishing and it was a relatively small business.

    But I’ve found some modern writers whose writing I absolutely adore too, whose characterisation is just flawless. Some of my favourites have been Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Isabel Allende. Have you read any of them?

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This entry was posted on January 23, 2011 by in Slice o' Opinion Pie and tagged , , , .
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