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I have been re-reading Our Mutual, after a long gap since last attempting the grand old man of Eng. Lit., and thoroughly enjoyed it. I did find some of the Fledgeby sections a little turgid, and not at all surprised that dramatised versions omit them altogether. A marked impression was with how modern a character Eugene Wrayburn is portrayed. His ennui with the limitations of modern life and yet at the same time, until he is forced to change by his brush with death, how incapable of exerting himself to any kind of self-determination. This, of course, makes his eventual willingness to make Lizzy his wife (or as he thinks, his widow) all the more touching. This time around I rather sympathised with the Lammles, tricked by each believing the other party to be bringing the money to the marriage. Knowing where the plot was working out to, I found John Harmon a less than believable person, on the one hand roughing it up with Riderhood ‘in seaman character’ (and throwing Wegg out on his ear) and on the other being the polite and diffident Secretary. I did enjoy the John, Bella and the Boffins story arc, although Bella’s passivity is frustrating, but then you don’t read Dickens for believable women. This was written at the time of the Ellen Ternan relationship – so I suppose the main take-away for him was of a passionate female nature. We of course these days would frown (or worse) on a relationship between a famous middle aged author and a teenage actress!
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