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I'm watching Bleak House on Amazon Prime - the version of it with Gillian Anderson. It's making me remember stuff I learned about Charles Dickens in high-school English...Namely that his work was serialized in newspapers and magazines (he was paid by the word). People were rabid for the stories. Watching Bleak House, I am just imagining the epic ship wars that must've ensued in the back alleys of Victorian Londen...Take your pick of ship.

The screen cuts and parody-worthy, whooshing close-ups also remind me how Bleak House was, essentially, Victorian pop culture fodder, 'low art'. There's melodrama, rich people behaving badly, crime and punishment, nefarious lawyers, noble poverty-stricken Londoners, despicable poverty-stricken Londoners, a virtuous young woman of dubious parentage (Esther), who is the locus of a love triangle and picked up an obsessive stalker in the first 20 minutes of the show, and a grande dame with a dark secret (Lady Dedlock).

Also I'm smirking at the modern parallels, particularly Richard's educational switches. The more things change...

Mainstream publications still do this today, but reading the paper or subscribing to a magazine isn't as ubiquitous as it was in the 1800s. People do it, but not everyone.

One of the best analogues, I think, is television - it's gotten to the point that when a new Game of Thrones episode comes out, almost everyone is talking about it, even mainstream news sites. I suppose that's why Dickens' work lends itself really well to television - it's episodic, and meant to keep the audience coming back for more (buy more papers).

However, in modern literature, fanfiction is practically the successor to the old-school serial. On AO3 and you can subscribe to an author, or put a watch on a story so you don't miss any updates.

Yeah, that sounded pretentious...But keep in mind that stuff like Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations were all just entertainment when they were originally published. Yeah, fanfic isn't going to get the Dickens treatment, but I kinda like the fact that 'the serial' LIVES STILL, LIVES ON THE INTERNET!! I think Dickens would be pleased :)


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December 2016



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