After wrapping up The Gods of Mars, B.J. Harrison and The Classic Tales Premium Podcast bring us David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.  This book was released as a full novel in 1850, after being published serially the two previous years.  The actual title of the book is, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account).  As you probably know, Dickens got paid by the word.

Dickens said that, like many parents, he had a favorite child, “and his name is David Copperfield.”  It is also B.J.’s all time favorite book.  If you ask him today, “What’s your favorite book?”   He’ll say, “David Copperfield, of course!”  If you’d asked him the same question ten years ago, he would have said, “Why, it is David Copperfield!”  If you ask him in five years…. well OK.  You get the idea.

Why is this his favorite book?  “I don’t know how Dickens does it,” B.J. says,  “but he creates characters that really latch on to our subconscious archetypes. For me, this gives me a very sweet satisfaction when the villains get what is coming to them, and a personal connection to the trials of the hero. I know of no other book with which I feel a greater personal connection than with David Copperfield.”

So why has he waited so long to produce this book?  Well, for two reasons.  First, he wanted to get better at narrating, so he could do justice to the wonderful, and varied characters who populate this book.  Then of course, there is the length.  If he tried releasing this through The Classic Tales Podcast, which releases an episode only once a week (and is FREE!), it would have taken the better part of two years, (about as long as it took the first time this book was serialized) and everyone needs an income!   So now, with six years of doing what he does best, and with a great new vehicle for its release, we get David Copperfield!

B.J.’s own introduction to this novel was the 1939 film with WC Fields, Basil Rathbone, Una O’Connor, Lionel Barrymore and the rest of the all-star studio cast.  And it blew him away.  Can’t you just picture Basil Rathbone as the evil Mr. Murdstone?

B.J. forms bonds to the audiobooks he listens along with the projects he is working on.  For example, when he thinks of Jane Eyre, he thinks of The Testaments film. Tess of the D’Urbervilles is the Tree he made for Park City.  When I think of Wuthering Heights, I think of popcorn garlands for a Christmas tree.  Do you have similar relationships to books?

I’ve been listening as the episodes are published.  It is truly excellent narration.  B.J. is so familiar with the novel, that he can bring to life the subtleties of the narrator as he looks back through his life perfectly.  I promise you, that no matter how many times you’ve read this book, you’ll find new meaning as you listen to B.J. perform it.  If you are new to this novel, you could not have found a better introduction.  His character work is impeccable.  In true Dickensian fashion, the voices and tones of the characters tell you what kind of person they are.  For some of the women, I swear he’s channeling Eric Idle!  And judging from his bio, he might very well be.

Let me leave you with some of B.J.’s favorite quotes from the novel:

  • “I am well aware that I am the umblest person going.”
  • “Never… be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.” 
  • “Accidents will occur in the most regulated families”
  • “I sit down by the fire, thinking with a blind remorse of all those secret feelings I have nourished since my marriage. I think of every little trifle between me and Dora, and feel the truth, that trifles make the sum of life.”

Go ahead and leave some of your favorite quotes on the comments!