My inspirational teacher, Richard Milward, featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2012/07/04/no-one-forgets-a-good-teacher/ stressed that a story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. As I have progressed through my reading life I have come to believe that the journey through a book has been more important to me than the focus on a satisfactory ending. Charles Dickens, however, would have followed Mr Milward’s mantra – and rightly so.
The exception of course was
This was no fault of the author who had panned out his tale in his even more than usually cryptic notes, but unfortunately fell to a fatal heart attack when only a third of the way through the work. Just three of the chapter instalments had been published and Dickens had been compelled to elide some of the text for the next two because he had written too much for their publication in their customary form. It was left to others to edit the rest and reintroduce the omissions.
Despite its gradual infusion of foreboding, the writer’s customary dry wit and humorous descriptions feature throughout the published sections. The characterisation is typical of the master, and has the promise of more complexity than usual.
I have to acknowledge a gradual slackening of interest in the last fifty pages or so: perhaps I did really need to know there would be one of my old schoolmaster’s favoured endings; perhaps the humour had lessened; perhaps the emphasis on the likely death of Edwin reflected Charles Dickens’s premonition of his own demise.
Would it not have served our great novelist’s memory better to have left the publication of Edwin Drood at the episodes he saw into print himself?
Christopher Hibbert’s introduction to my Folio Society edition is useful and informative, as is the publisher’s note on the text and reproduction of Dickens’s own outline plan.
in the artist’s typically lively idiosyncratic style, are faithful to the text and refuse to be constrained by the same boundaries as the typeset blocks.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s Chicken and leek pie, which she photographed herself; creamy mashed potatoes; green peas; crunchy carrots; piquant cauliflower cheese; tender cabbage, and tasty gravy with which we jointly finished the Sauvignon Blanc.