A Literary Series: Part Five

Is anyone sick of this yet? Does anyone read these? I still have a few more to go, so bear with me. And if it helps, they just get better and better, so keep reading!

This is probably one of my favorites (have I said that yet?) out of all of these. Here, our main character is describing how his friend uses words in his letters. I love, love, love that Dickens uses the very means of description that he’s describing. Confused? Yep. The master of irony has struck again:

Again, Mr. Micawber had a relish in this formal piling up of words, which, however ludicrously displayed in his case, was, I must say, not at all peculiar to him. I have observed it, in the course of my life, in numbers of men. It seems to me to be a general rule. In the taking of legal oaths, for instance, deponents seem to enjoy themselves mightily when they come to several good words in succession, for the expression of one idea; as, that they utterly detest, abominate, and abjure, or so forth; and the old anathemas were made relishing on the same principle. We talk about the tyranny of words, but we like to tyrannize over them too; we are fond of having a large superfluous establishment of words to wait upon us on great occasions; we think it looks important, and sounds well. As we are not particular about the meaning of our liveries on state occasions, if they be but fine and numerous enough, so, the meaning or necessity of our words is a secondary consideration, if there be but a great parade of them. And as individuals get into trouble by making too great a show of liveries, or as slaves when they are too numerous rise against their masters, so I think I could mention a nation that has got into many great difficulties, and will get into many greater, from maintaining too large a retinue of words.

[Home page photo from]
[Text from Charles Dickens’, David Copperfield, Chapter 52)

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One thought on “A Literary Series: Part Five

  1. Pingback: The Dreamboat: Part 2 « not a local

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