Friday, July 17, 2009

Top 10 literary tear jerkers

David Nicholls named a top ten list of literary tear jerkers for Britain's Independent.

One book on the list:

This list is more than usually personal and subjective, and with that in mind I should immediately confess my immunity to Austen and the Brontes. Wuthering Heights always struck me as far too mad to be moving, a very strange book indeed. This list will also shows up certain shameful gap in my reading. Anna Karenina, for example, or The Mill on the Floss, or a lot of recent fiction that I've yet to catch up with.

I have, however, read Great Expectations at least ten times, and am always struck by how genuinely moving it is, and largely free of that comic grotesquerie that can sometimes try the patience. In his big emotional scenes, Dickens walks a fine line between mawkish and affecting; "One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing," as Oscar Wilde put it. But Great Expectations is much better than that, and the scene between Pip and the dying Magwitch is a beauty. Dickens loved a good death scene, see also Smike in Nicholas Nickleby, Nancy in Oliver Twist, Joe in Bleak House but this is the finest.
Learn about the other nine literary tear jerkers on the list.

Great Expectations also made John Mullan's ten best list of fights in fiction and numbers among Kurt Anderson's five most essential books.

--Marshal Zeringue