David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 32, 33&34

Chapter 32

  • David takes the break up hard.

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  • David loves Dora, adult!Steerforth, and even, to some extent, Rosa not just after a short acquaintance, but because he doesn’t really know them. He’s spent so little time with these three–less than you might think if you were reading quickly, given all that happens. (Admittedly his actual engagement to Dora is more sane and extensive.)
  • In contrast Agnes and Uriah, who also have large presences in David’s emotional landscape, and people he knows well (yet not fully–he doesn’t know Agnes would like to marry him, and he constantly knows and yet doesn’t know what Uriah’s capable of&up to).
  • It’s cool that Dickens gives Mrs Gummidge of all people, who’s sat in the corner the whole of the book thus far just saying ‘I AM DEPRESSED!!’, a great, helpful role to play when Emily leaves.
  • Mowcher the hairdresser pops up, and like Gummidge she’s unexpectedly a badass. Dickens often makes people who are difficult or annoying also great for reasons connected to exactly why they’re exasperating. I find Mowcher’s comments on disabled performativity really striking.

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  • Peggotty, Mr Peggotty and David all head back to London. The men go visit Steerforth’s mom, who’s like ‘lolol I will never let them make this ok by getting married, it would ruin his career! Do you want like, idk a fiver for your kid? As compensation, or something?’ (What career? Steerforth is all potential, no follow-through.)
  • ‘I will forgive him if he fixes his mistake, comes crawling back and begs me, because I’m owed that!’ It’s not really that Mrs Steerforth doesn’t love her son. He is, as she says, her entire life. But class has deformed their relationship to the point that she can’t imagine acting in a manner consistent with Mr Peggotty’s self-denying forgiveness.
  • Rosa Dartle pops up to literally be like 🙃 ‘if I saw that bitch in the street I’d skin her for shoe leather.’ 🙃  David’s like WTF THAT IS SO UNNECESSARY WHY DO YOU JUST SAY? THINGS?

Chapter 33

  • David’s markedly graver from this point on, and a few other events will exacerbate this. The tragedies he experienced as a child are in some way less troubling to him than the ones he feels he played an active and aware part in, even if he’s not culpable and acknowledges that.
  • At this point the fantasy of loving Dora, who David’s properly met for literally one weekend and said like ten words to since, becomes about restoring a functional model of romance in the face of the collapse of the idea of Steerforth, and about escaping an increasingly serious and unappealing world.
  • David likes Dora more because he’s dealing with some shit. Dora, in contrast, has never even fully comprehended the idea of dealing with shit, much less done so.
  • Who should pop up getting his marriage license sorted in town but the hideous Mudstone? He’s getting hitched to a pretty girl with money, who’s so recently come of age that the lawyer comments that the couple must have been waiting for that. What a fucking creep??? Peggotty’s just like, ‘god help that child’.
  • We get a two page digression where Dickens I mean David gets really pissy about poorly-organised legal document storage and refers to some pertinent parliamentary reports about this!!
  • Right in Front of my Salad: David gets invited to Dora’s Birthday Party

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  • After two actual meetings. TWO. two meetings. these idiots are engaged. The flurried courting that follows is such a pantomime of the idea of courtship.
  • It’s funny, but also sad that when David writes to Agnes, he doesn’t think this sort of emotional tumult is something she’d be able to participate in. Because he DOES look back on this as perhaps the fondest, tenderest time in his life? (For all it’s fucking ridiculous and absolutely should not lead to these 17 year olds getting married.)

Chapter 34

  • Peggotty’s family in Yarmouth has broken up, her husband’s died after a long illness in which she was the caretaker, and she’s looking for something to do. Hanging around in London taking care of David a bit is grounding her, and he’s still of an age where he kind of needs a mom.
  • Class shit prevents David and Peggotty from acknowledging that as much as Betsey is his second mom, Peggotty clearly also is. Between them Betsey and Peggotty cared for David from his from birth to near-adulthood.
  • Betsey and Peggotty will eventually go off to live together, reprising the Peggotty-Clara dynamic. Platonic-lesbian/all-female constructed families are a weirdly overlooked thing in these texts. Rosa and Mrs Steerforth will end up being the widowed daughter in law that never quite was, caring for her ageing mother.
  • The Micawbers’ house got repossessed, so Traddles can’t live with them anymore. In the process, the bailiff’s carried off Traddles’ ‘saving up for marriage!!’ coffee table and flower pot. Peggotty and David must pose as Random Buyers at the pawn broker to save the pot.
  • After they succeed, Traddles carries the flower pot off in triumph.
  • Meanwhile Peggotty and David’s crappola landlady are engaged in pitched battle over David-minding duties. Crupp doesn’t even want these, she just doesn’t want called on her copious bullshit by Peggotty, who’s more capable of advocating for David than he is for himself.
  • Crupp is planting lots of pitchers on the stairs to try and trip and kill Peggotty, who refuses to die. She will live and throw shade forever.
  • The greatest Old Lady Boss Battle is undoubtedly the one in Tale of Two Cities: a throw down straight out of wuxia. I cannot tell you how Dickens communes with Chinese novelists on the spirit-plane, I can simply assure you that it happens.
  • The titanic Betsey shows up out of nowhere to be like ‘yo we don’t have any money anymore, suck it the fuck up, we’re poor as hell.’ *sips tea*

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David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 27, 28, 29, 30&31

Chapter 27

  • David goes to visit Tommy MVP Traddles. David is like god everything about this dodgy-ass establishment reminds me so much of when I was living with the Micawbers?? Turns out: Traddles is literally renting from the Micawbers.

Chapter 28

  • David tries to throw another crappola dinner party for this squad. In the entire book, these never go smoothly. It’s never a good idea. Mrs Micawber tells everyone her astounding plan to invent LinkedIn. This will also turn out not to be a good idea.
  • Oh my god please, just get laid and stop pining after everyone you know, it is doing them all psychological injuries.

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Chapter 29

  • Steerforth asks David to come stay at his house for a bit, where Rosa, trying to get to the bottom of why Steerforth never visits anymore, sort of accuses David of schlepping him? She cannot even envision the greater horror: that Steerforth is schtupping a prole.

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  • Have James Steerforth and Rosa banged? Flip a coin, seriously. Over dinner, Rosa elaborately hints to Steerforth that if he takes some step that pisses off his mom, who gave him his awful stubbornness, it will be nigh impossible for the two of them to make up.
  • David’s like, ‘hate to love you and leave you but I’ve got to go see Peggotty, whose husband is dying’. Steerforth is like ‘hey man, I’m about to ruin several lives, but I’d like to emotionally blackmail you into still having a good opinion of me first because I can’t handle contradiction :)’.

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Chapter 30 

  • David leaves Casa del Fuckboi and helps Peggotty with the admin and legal shit surrounding her husband’s death. Good kid.

Chapter 31

  • I’m not sure why Barkiss leaves anything to David, who has money, except for the fact that Peggotty considers him essentially her kid. Fair, I guess.
  • Though why not leave some money for the poorer Ham? I guess Ham has a trade that’s going well. He’s probably also his uncle and aunt’s heir, and thus the money Barkiss gives them will go to him. The same could also be said for Emily, who is nonetheless specifically mentioned in the will? Eh.
  • Emily is acting weird as fuck, and so it’s no surprise when she leaves a note that’s like ‘guys, I can’t go through with this marriage, I’m SO SORRY’ and runs away with a Mysterious Dudesman.
  • Even the innocuous Ham Sandwich is like IT WOULD BE BETTER IF SHE’D DIED THAN THIS!! (This book and the Dickens canon as a whole both really trouble an And That’s The Singular Opinion of The Writer/Age! reading of that sentiment, though.)
  • Of course that fuckboi is Steerforth, of course this is what he’s been doing with himself.

 

David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 25&26

Chapter 25

  • David spends a full day hungover, crying, dying of Little Bitchitis which, tragically, there is still no vaccine for. Then he goes and cries ON Agnes. She points out that Steerforth seems like exactly the sort of fuckboi loser David would fasten on like a clam. David says ‘NUH UH, HE IS GODLIKE—’
  • Agnes roasts him a bit about his fail-bi parade of infatuations/weird emotional entanglements. For once in her life, she is engaging:D3yfGAwXsAEF0Wp.jpgD3yfGAzWsAA73CJ.jpg
  • More importantly (possibly), Agnes tells David that the hot second David left town, Uriah oozed up to Mr Wickfield like ‘heeeeeey bitch’ and threatened to leave unless he got made partner.
  • Agnes and the narrative alike frame this as Uriah’s having manipulated and undermined a vulnerable alcoholic. On the other hand, Uriah’s been working here since he was pulled out of school at 12. His partial, limited prospects have been entirely dependent on Wickfield’s good graces. Wickfield is, as Katz has observed by studying legal apprenticeship systems, a negligent mentor. For how many years has Uriah been doing a significant amount, most, or all of the work? Did Wickfield jump or was he pushed, and did he walk up to the window himself first? It’s a more nuanced question than dutiful Agnes or loyal, classist, painfully-seventeen David can entertain.
  • Don’t think the book doesn’t get it, though. Every marriage in this book has a significant class-question stuck in the middle of it. Later Uriah gets a titanic Shakespearian ‘see it my way’ speech, in which he’s desperate for David not just to understand, but to care.
  • Agnes, David, Uriah and Tommy Motherfucking Traddles the Skelletor MVP, back in the narrative for the lols and living with the Micawbers for the greater lols, attend a horrible dinner party where a parade of Successful Middle Class Adults bray at each other in American Psycho hell.
  • Agnes is like, ‘WHATEVER YOU DO, TRY NOT TO START SHIT WITH URIAH FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!!’ David understands this to mean he has to invite Uriah to his room at midnight for coffee. David Logic.
  • Uriah hasn’t seen David in literally only like a month, but that period has allowed the crazy to build up in him to the extent that he needs to put on a full Follies routine here, he cannot hold back. First he’s all ‘MAYBE U HEARD I GOT PROMOTED?!?!’ 🐍🐍🐍
  • (David’s like ‘I ONLY NOW came to a decision that I didn’t like him!!’ David w h a t?)
  • Uriah’s like David, I remember everything you’ve ever said to me. I remember the first time I saw you. I have ever since ‘over-flowed towards’ you–BY THE WAY, gonna marry Agnes!! 🐍💍👰 = £££
  • Oh you think I’m doing a Reading, do you? Friends, the text.D4ngKcmXoAIt3Bs.jpg
  • Lavender 🌺 menace 🥀 does 🌹 not 🌷 come 💐 to 🌸 play.
  • There was NO REASON beyond fucking with David to say any of this, it is actively a bad idea. But Uriah would walk 500 miles and then 500 more to ding dong ditch David with a weird pleased-grimace in lieu of a smile; no price is too great to pay for fucking with him.
  • Uriah’s all golly GOSH is that the TIME? and uses amazing passive aggression to make David put him up for the night; a night David spends fantasising about running him through with a red-hot poker.
  • Just fuck, tbh.D4nj_jKXkAEN-X8.jpg

 

Chapter 26

  • David is So Seventeen he becomes obsessed with Dora Spenlow over… not a lot? The narrative doesn’t even spend that much time on how hot she is–David seems attracted to her manner, more than anything. He’s into her house, its garden and even kind of into her dad–David’s very ready to be into Dora before they even meet.
  • Chesterton’s right that it’s passionate and fun, but Dora is wildly unprepared for companionate love, as bad a mismatch for David as the spiritual but not passionate or really companionate Agnes. (This is a Dating Sim, btw.)
  • It’s a shame that Betsey’s growth as a person (and her feeling responsible for Clara’s bad second marriage, abuse and death, because of the rift in the family caused by her having initially objected to Clara and David Sr’s marriage) prevents her from talking seriously to David about how this is a bad long term relationship.
  • There’s a lot of basic-bitch second-wave crit that thinks the narrative is too harsh on Dora because she dies, and that David’s a cunt for not appreciating her. The narrative does eventually Childbed Death her, but to be honest the ways Dora’s classed expression of gender have warped her have made her incompatible with adult life, and it WAS only going to get more glaring&awful. That marriage when both are 60 is a horror story. Who’s responsible for rendering Dora unfit for adulthood when she’s no longer a desire object?
  • Can you love someone for being Pleasing when you have nothing in common with them? When they don’t help you with the basic work of life, when all that’s between you is the fact of love?
  • I think it’s fine for a character to love someone but have a tough, sometimes unsatisfying marriage? David is kind to her, but it’s not always easy to be kind. Shouldn’t we be interested in work exploring the struggles and disappointments of being with someone once you’re properly together, rather than just the arc towards consummation?
  • All David’s thinking is that he has been alone for seven! whole! weeks!! and descended to writing poetry about his Loneliness!!, so it’d be cool if Dora could sleep over. That’s it, that’s his Process.
  • David says he’s not trying to get at Dora’s dad’s money, and I believe him. But the attraction he feels towards Dora is entirely about her being a constructed upper-middle class desire object. Dora’s been taught to sing French songs at finishing school abroad, primped, attended by a tiny dog and framed by her luxurious environment.
  • She’s never been physically, emotionally or intellectually shaped by labour (especially not the poverty of David’s own past). She’s a dream of class. David loves Dora. But what he loves in her is wholly enabled by her class, subterraneanly a rejection of his own classed past shame, and inextricable from projects of Ascendency. In a way that’s Purer than the relationship Uriah is working to establish between himself and Agnes.
  • Uriah doesn’t lie to himself about what he wants this to do and why he wants it. To his credit, David cares whether Dora’s happy. (Uriah couldn’t give less of a fuck–he thinks her domestic labour is as extractable as his own has been over the last decade.)
  • There’s some really neat stuff later in the book regarding whether you can ever help your partner by teaching them shit, whether you have to accept people as they are, or whether it’s okay to let yourself be people’s pet, with limited agency/responsibility–the attraction and horror of being treated like that.
  • Neither Dora nor David can ever really change the other for the better. They don’t offer one another a challenge they can meet while still loving each other, beyond David’s challenging himself to accept a difficult status quo.
  • Disaster Bi has bought ridiculous new waistcoats, kid leather gloves&TINY TINY BOOTS (??) to constantly parade around in in areas of town he hopes Dora might go to. He’s hobbling around Stylishly, striking many a pose, and occasionally managing to be like, ‘hey’.

 

David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 23&24

Chapter 23

  • David and Steerforth leave the seaside and head back to town. Steerforth basically chooses David’s profession for him. Uke David is all ‘whatever u like senpai uwu’.
  • Seventeen-year-old David is too young to realise the Doctors’ Commons is a fucking awful career for him. It’s the sort of suggestion only a terminal no-fucks giver like Steerforth, who doesn’t see David’s convictions, energy and different relationship to work because he’s determined to make a pet of David, could come up with. It also reflects Betsey’s still thinking of Wickfield as the man he was pre-bereavement, and thinking him and thus his whole field generally sound.
  • Also-novelist Disraeli said marriage was the only adventure available to the middle classes, which, while a classic gay bant, reflects his own class positioning. Dickens, in contrast, often uses similar structures to think about career choice.
  • ‘Proctor’ is like ‘Dora’—a contract you enter into too young to know better. Advice and mobility interest Dickens—Emily shouldn’t get married, she should go help Mowcher. A life that suits her temperament and ambition is embedded in the text. ‘Marriage plots, but with careers’ is the formulation I’m reaching towards with this.
  • Betsey visits London; hates it. D3nkd0hXsAIigS-.jpg
  • David’s signed up for a hella bad paid-internship, as in he is paying for the internship, with Mr Spenlow, soon to be known as Dora’s Dad.
  • David describes Mr Spenlow’s appearance and clothes a lot, because David can’t fancy someone without fancying their single parent and creating a fictive sibling relationship (because Trauma). He needs to symbolically re-enter the womb with the help of a competent therapist and her vaginal pink bouncy-castle to ever heal and stop doing this dumb shit. Not some kind of unprofessional entanglement: a literal inflatable faux womb, where he sits and listens to ocean noises and Enya.
  • David’s also rented a flat which is nicer than any I’ve ever had, because the London housing crisis is a Real One.

Chapter 24

  • David gets shitfaced with Steerforth and his loser uni friends.
  • This leads to a difficult to watch display of intense babygay energy.D3yVI3HXoAAL00W.jpg
  • Tragically, they all go out to the theatre and run into Agnes. Now Agnes has some Issues with her alcoholic dad she did not need reprised in this way, fair enough. The book TRIES to deny it, but Agnes is also a sheltered judgy nightmare.

David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 21&22

Chapter 21

  •  The point where my notes now stop after The Great Loss [A/N: I lost 100 pages’ worth of notes and had to re-read and re-write them] is by weird coincidence the point at which I was last live-blogging. Doing that as I re-read will give recouping my work some kind of purpose.
  • I wonder how service works exactly with class here? Clara has one regular servant we hear about (Peggotty), as does Betsey (Janet). We hear very little about the Wickfield’s arrangements, but Agnes has a governess, which indicates the presence of additional domestics. No one has a governess and no maid?
  • It seems totally not in the picture for even the now middle class David to have a personal servant of any kind (other than his landlady, who does some limited cooking and tidying for him as part of their arrangement). But Steerforth has a personal servant, Littimer. How rich does one have to be for that?
  • Littimer also takes care of David as Steerforth’s guest—odd, because David typically does without any of the service Littimer provides. Does the class at which on might employ a servant change over time? Is Bertie Wooster ‘Steerforth-rich’, or more like ‘David-rich’, with all domestic service provided by Jeeves, sans Crupp? It’s not as though the last of the Woosters has a townhouse or anything? Just a nice flat? And not all the Drones are particularly liquid. Yet I think they may almost to a man have a gentleman’s personal gentleman.
  • Anyway, Steerforth is teaching David to ride, fence and box, in a lackadaisical ‘staying for a week’ training montage way. David doesn’t say ‘its exactly like the self-defence scene from Gaudy Night, I swooned hourly’, but we can just trust that he did, because we know this bitch by now.
  • For a guy Mowcher tells us later is a confirmed and practiced bored rake, Steerforth doesn’t get up to much around David. Is it Dickens failing to imagine anything that wild at this point in his career (i.e. pre his personal friendship with old Drugs Wilkie), or does he suspect his audience won’t like hearing about it?
  • Rather than saying David was too dim to pick up hints of such regular debauchery, I think I prefer to think him unwilling to see any, and to see Steerforth as successfully concealing his fuckboi nature from David. He enjoys David’s loving him—it gives him a vision of a man he might be, if he could live up to it.
  • There’s a seduction and pressure with David, who’s at least as clever and charming as Steerforth (or Uriah, who’s great at manipulating people without them liking him), and much better, with a greater direction and fate, telling you you’re wonderful and expecting everything of you. David’s narration doesn’t give us much of a sense of this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was in the room, affecting Steerforth’s decisions.
  • David’s loving Steerforth is a lot like his loving Dora in terms of how that affection is described, how immediate it is and it’s built largely on affects and surface enchantment and pleasure. If you’re not discussing David’s infatuation with Steerforth in the same breath as the novel’s marriages, I just can’t take your analysis terribly seriously?
  • Unless you’re Chesterton and then you’re one of ten good readers of Dickens ever to write criticism, but too Catholic to get these things, and must just be exempted on that score.
  • No one has ever dragged their ex’s body through the fucking streets like David Copperfield. Hector was not more thoroughly made into sand-paste than James SteerforthD2xGc8bWwAAgay2.jpg
  • There’s some quality ‘retrospective self-hatred, with a smile!!’ here, too.
  • Bb everyone is REAL stupid at 17, this is not your fault!

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  • So Noted Disaster Bisexual David has taken his bestie Steerforth to see his lower-class basically-extended-family, including his SUPER HOT childhood sweetheart Emily, who chafes against her class status. David is a This Is Fine dog meme, and has yet to learn to smell fuckeries on the wind.
  • David and Steerforth accidentally crash Emily’s engagement party, but end up having a nice time. David is in POWERFUL denial about his boyfriend being a dickweasel.

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  • David: you can’t be serious, because that would make you a horrible person, and I love you!! Me, reading through my fingers: G I R L.

Chapter 22

  • Earlier I did a disservice to Chesterton. He doesn’t get that the Steerforth thing is queer, no, but really he doesn’t have to. He transcends understanding this to still think Steerforth and Dora are key passionate relationships in David’s life. He’s like \Agnes fucking who’, though. Sebastian Faulks is like ‘AGNES IS THE MODEL OF HETERO LOVE!!’ and I’m like, this is why i never finished Birdsong and you’re fit for BBC radio quiz guest checks and not a lot else.
  • (Also Napoleon of Notting Hill has queer energy, The Man Who Was Thursday has a grindr, don’t @ me, these are my truths. Chesterton was as large as three men if one of those men was incredibly gay, he contains multitudes.)
  • Agnes is Dickens googling ‘can I save my marriage’ on Christmas Day while taking the kids on an unwanted ramble after he and Catherine had a fight about how he obsessively planned the dinner like every year and she’s just tired, she doesn’t want to help mash potatoes, they can go out!
  • Emily and Peggotty are helping this ruined girl, Martha, get out of town and start over as best she can in London. It’s a grim pre-figuration for Emily.
  • Descriptions of Martha are bestial and spectral. It’s not ‘sin’ that’s the issue. Mo one really gave a shit about Lady Deadlock, or Oliver’s poor mum, in those terms. It’s more a stylistic argument that being cut off from society makes people inhuman?
  • There are all these revenant images in the book, and I wonder what he’s drawing on? It’s a bit early to be vampires. He could be rethinking Pollidori, but I don’t quite see it. It retrospectively looks like zombies? I know there’s a strong medieval revenant tradition, but via what line would Dickens access that. I’ve also thought about whether it’s Frankenstein. Maybe, but I feel like the intensity and recurrence of embodied spirit/rising from the grave imagery is more Revelations. Graveyard poets??
  • David meets an interesting dwarf hairdresser. Originally she was supposed to be part of Steerforth’s conspiracy to ruin Emily’s life, but Dickens received a letter from a dwarf hairdresser in his neighbourhood who was like I HAVE OFTEN BEEN PARODIED BUT NEVER BY A FAMOUS WRITER– Dickens, previously unaware of the woman, wrote her an apology and RETHOUGHT THE WHOLE PLOT. Now Mowcher’s a heroine with an incredible speech about emotional performativity and disability and a heroic triumph over a baddie guy in court. I love the engagement and elasticity of writing that genuinely allows for Mowcher’s turn here.
  • Serial writing can be a hell of a thing. Similarly Riah in Our Mutual Friend answers a female Jewish friend’s criticisms of Fagin.
  • The FRUSTRATING inability to authentically be who the people who love you want you to be is a thing.

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David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 19&20

Chapter 19

  • David is done with high school. He has NO CLUE what his job should be, which is interesting as David often has a surplus of ideas and direction. At present he also doesn’t have much of a vocational outlook towards work, but then I think a lot of the ‘I want to work towards something good in the world’ vs ‘I want a job’ is really classed, and perhaps indicative of a later cultural stage of thinking about work? There’s an optimistic reading of such desire, but perhaps Fromm et al might think in terms of—this is capitalism so having colonised psychologies that we believe we can Do and Mean in the world/actualise ourselves primarily via career success and productivity.
  • Betsey’s like, give it a think over a couple weeks’ break? And so David goes to London, en route to going to see Peggotty on a surprise visit.
  • In London David, gayer than ever, is swept away by the magic of the theatre!! and runs into his ex. Re-met Steerforth continues to be flattered by David’s high opinion of him, but ultimately unable to commit any direction in life, or to any lasting or meaningful relationship that involves self-criticism, growth and responsibility. What a fuckeroni.Picture1We’ve all been there mate, dreaming of Ancient Rome, Steerforth and Friendship. I too have been a young, useless gay, as have we all.Picture2

 

Chapter 20

  • David and Steerforth go on a nice London Date. The gay energy is undeniable but so is the fuckboi energy, and there is nothing I abhor more deeply. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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  • So David spends the weekend at Steerforth’s, meeting his weird mom and cousin/fuckbuddy??/frenemy Rosa Dartle (best played by Jacqueline Pearce). David is terrified of and turned on by Steerforth’s pet passive-aggressive bitchqueen, who apparently took the same ‘how to lose friends, but influence people’ conversational correspondence course as Uriah.
  • This is a really good conversation, with Rosa uncomfortably skinning James’ easy self-centred assumptions. David’s believing the best of this situation without due cause is about to become unsafe for him and devastating for people in more precarious positions. For example they’re about to go down together (for a lark, on Steerforth’s part), to visit the Peggotys. This will end badly.
  • I’m not sure Steerforth’s mom really gets what Rosa is doing in these exchanges. Which sort of furthers a thought I’ve had before, that actually maybe a lot of people don’t half-get, in the way David always does, that Uriah is mocking them. Maybe Rosa and Uriah’s shit pleases people who want to hear that kind of thing, and only makes someone like David, already a bit innately ill at ease with the underlying assumptions in play, uncomfortable.
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David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 17&18

Chapter 17

  • So the Pettiest Bourgeoisie has made some solid hatevows, and this wee 11 year old jackass is like ‘hey 15 year old who’s been a law clerk 5 years, I could teach you Latin in my spare time’

Uriah: gee. Thanks. Gosh. WOW.

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  • When do they have this conversation? When Uriah has guilt-tripped David into coming to tea with his mother, which is a normal and straight thing to passive-aggressively whine at an acquaintance about.
  • There’s a lot of BIZARRE ott shit about ‘oh if only your father had lived to see this day!!’ re: David’s visit, which is 1. fake as shit, 2. taking the piss, 3. figures David as a fiancé, like, this is the reaction to that, but displaced here??
  • Then the two Heeps work to squeeze David’s whole life story out of him which I guess is supposed to be about possible future evil plan use, but it never quite is (nothing about Wickfield’s port drinking wasn’t already physically obvious in his complexion to a ten-year-old), and again, the emotional intelligence, play with femme performativity, closeness of Mother-and-self is all a bit ‘proto-Psycho, but what if repeatedly stabbing the middle classes with the knife of the spectre of the mobility that’s supposed to underlie this stage of capitalism but actually doesn’t at all’?
  • Micawber shows back up in the narrative, walking by the Heep’s house and seeing David RIGHT THERE. David is a bit worried Micawber will rumble his urchin-past, and tired of choking down the world’s worst scones in the company of the world’s nosiest people, so he heads out with Micawber and has a Homies Rendezvous with him and the Never-Deserting.
  • Y’all will be shocked to learn they’ve still got money troubles.
  • This Siegfried Farnon Hot Topic Goth ass motherfucker, who among us is not sick of Micawber’s shit??

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  • I mean Micawber is right, but like, people would have died, so best not to imagine?

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  • This is interesting though, because while Micawber is only indulging in his habit of bigging-up people, he’s never actually wrong in that? David is indeed super capable, and will prove so. Traddles will go on to become an important judge. Uriah decides to love himself after his Wickfield Fraud goes south and nearly takes down the Bank of England in a LEGENDARY fraud scheme. Mrs Micawber is constantly bigging-up her husband, but per his eventual success in Australia, she is also right??
  • Drunk white people have been trying to sing along to ‘La Bamba’ since the dawn of time.

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  • The Micawbers leave, and David is like to be real it was great to see you, and great to see the back of you. :/ They are a lot of work.
  • Earlier there was some Subplot Shit about David’s good friend, a young woman who’s a newly-wed with a much older husband (David’s headmaster, Doctor Strong). Her mom is obnoxious and wants New Husband to support every indigent family member they have going, including Annie’s slimy cousin, the aforementioned Jack Maldon, who the Doctor buys a post for in India. Is there anything going on between Annie and her hot but too-perpetually-bored-to-eat-his-own-dinner asshole cousin? No of course there isn’t, because Annie’s not a fucking moron and Jack sucks large, but later catty bitch Uriah will start some drama about it for under-supported reasons that pretty much only make sense if he’s fucking with David for the sake of doing so/because he’s desperate for attention!

 

Chapter 18

  • We are now treated to a Growing Up Montage because Dickens doesn’t know what the cinematic gaze is, but he loves it. Important in this process: David wearing so much hair gel he looks like the Tenth Doctor. David having UNDYING CRUSHESSSSS on Every Girl.
  • Wtf is ‘turning in her toes’ and why is it a problem? (I am informed it is: bad posture.)
  • Spoilers: David gets his ass handed to him in pieces.

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  • The moral is if you’re five-nothing and gayer than a field of pansies don’t—try to be butch. Just. Just find a butch. Ask for help. Know your lane.
  • ‘In retrospect, bathing in Axe body spray twice daily was both expensive and a mistake.’

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  • Spoilers: it doesn’t work out with Miss Larkins, who is fucking 30 to David’s 17.
  • FURTHER SPOILERS: David works hard and becomes head boy, yay. David works HARDER and manages to not lose to the butcher!!! I only believe it because of David’s pure angry terrier tenacity.
  • Agnes grows from looking like a shrunken version of the 2-d painting of her dead mom to looking like an exact copy I’m not kidding this is the text someone fucking save this very boring child.
  • Wickfield becomes more of an alcoholic. Which is like character growth.