Author Topic: [Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.  (Read 28246 times)

William Sommerwerck

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[Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« on: September 13, 2005, 04:35:13 PM »
I got 75%. There is a general difference between Dickens and Bulwer-Lytton. The latter tends to use many words -- especially those of the Latin persuasion -- when only a few would do. Dickens' writing is more orderly and better-structured.


This post is about the Great prose or not? quiz --admin

Mikhail Simkin

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Re: The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2005, 06:36:42 PM »
Quote from: "William Sommerwerck"
I got 75%. There is a general difference between Dickens and Bulwer-Lytton. The latter tends to use many words -- especially those of the Latin persuasion -- when only a few would do. Dickens' writing is more orderly and better-structured.

Your score contradicts your statement that the difference is obvious. With only two choices - you get on the average 50% by random guessing. 75% may be treated as a fluctuation.

more well-read than you

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yup
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2005, 01:12:33 AM »
I received 83% -- stoned.

istara

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[Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2006, 06:19:44 AM »
There is a clear difference.  Bulwer-Lytton suffers from Hardy's Syndrome:  trying to sound more "literary" and high-flown than is elegant, wise or necessary.

The result is a sadly florid mash.

That said, I still maintain that "dark and stormy night" is a brilliant way to start a novel.

Anonymous

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[Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2006, 09:19:13 AM »
Bulwer's writing simply isn't nice to read, I wouldn't read it all if it wasn't for a quiz. Dickens writing is in contrary quite pleasant and I could read this much longer, it is, like the post before me already said, much more structured. (If I made grammatical mistakes just ignore them, I'm Dutch)

Anonymous

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[Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2006, 09:20:17 AM »
By the way; 83% :)

DrD

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Great Prose or Crap
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2006, 02:31:12 PM »
It was I'm sure, the great excess of elocution, (and might I add no mean abundance of excess verbiage) which, while it had originally carved upon my countenance furrows of perplexity not unlike those found in the early spring in the vast bucolic turnip fields of my youth, never-the-less allowed me to discern not inconsequential points of distinction between that great ascender to the literary heights of Parnassus, the noble Sir Charles Dickens, versus the trite and often redundant ramblings of Bulwer Lytton, and although it must be said that these differences were frequently as clear as Helios rising above the breast of Mother Earth readying for the day's exertions, yet were they at other times shrounded in a misty gloom, akin to the fog arising above an autumnal swamp.  --58%.

Guest from NJ

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[Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2007, 06:31:00 AM »
83% — I honestly think the reason I "passed" was because I read so much of Dickens growing up. Apparently I can spot his brand of verbosity anywhere.

Guest - IA

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Dickens-Bulwer
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2007, 07:55:50 AM »
I scored 58% which I felt was good because I've never read Bulwer and the last time I read Dickens was during college in the early 70s.

Udo Casper

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Dickens´ Sryle
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2007, 02:43:20 AM »
"Of Dickens's style it is impossible to speak in praise.  It is jerky,
ungrammatical, and created by himself in defiance of rules--almost
as completely as that created by Carlyle. To readers who have taught
themselves to regard language, it must therefore be unpleasant. But
the critic is driven to feel the weakness of his criticism, when
he acknowledges to himself--as he is compelled in all honesty to
do--that with the language, such as it is, the writer has satisfied
the great mass of the readers of his country. Both these great
writers have satisfied the readers of their own pages; but both
have done infinite harm by creating a school of imitators. No young
novelist should ever dare to imitate the style of Dickens. If such
a one wants a model for his language, let him take Thackeray." (Anthony Trollope, Autobiography)

Mikhail Simkin

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[Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2007, 01:41:26 PM »
Do you suggest that Dickens wrote good books in bad style, while Bulwer wrote just bad books. I'll answer with another citation, from Mencken.

"England has the best second-raters in the world; nowhere else is the general level of novel writing so high; nowhere else is there a corps of journeyman novelists comparable to Wells, Bennett, Benson, Walpole, Beresford, George, Galsworthy, Hichens, De Morgan, Miss Sinclair, Hewlett and company. They have a prodigious facility; they know how to write; even the least of them is, at all events, a more competent artisan than, say, Dickens, or Bulwer-Lytton, or Sienkiewicz, or Zola. But the literary _grande passion_ is simply not in them. They get nowhere with their suave and interminable volumes. Their view of the world and its wonders is narrow and superficial. They are, at bottom, no more than clever mechanicians."
--H. L. MENCKEN, A BOOK OF PREFACES (1917)

In 1917 Mencken placed Bulwer-Lytton in the same rank as Dickens and Zola, and above Wells and Galsworthy. Interesting, isn't it?

Anonymous

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[Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2007, 03:14:46 PM »
83%. Which is pretty funny, because I guessed the first one based on the use of first person, then alternated between the two for the rest.

mtgradwell

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Re: [Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2010, 12:15:56 PM »
It's a couple of days since I took the quiz, so my recollection may not be perfect, but I think my score was 50%.

If it's hard to tell them apart, it's because they were both members of the same "school", or genre. Bulwer-Lytton founded the Newgate School of writing, which Dickens later joined. In essence, Bulwer-Lytton was the master and Dickens his apprentice. Bulwer-Lytton exhibited great influence over Dickens, e.g. persuading him to alter the ending of "Great Expectations".

As "Bulwer Lytton: the rise and fall of a Victorian man of letters" puts it: "An author with a European reputation, outselling Dickens, Edward Bulwer Lytton was ennobled and, on his death, buried in Westminster Abbey."

Wikipedia will tell you that he was the author of 26 novels as well as several plays and works of poetry. These were successful enough to finance an extravagant lifestyle, and it wasn't just "the great unwashed" (a phrase Bulwer-Lytton coined) which read him. Mary Shelley wrote in her journal in 1831: "What will Bulwer become? The first author of the age? I do not doubt it. He is a magnificent writer."

The universal perception that Bulwer-Lytton was an execrable writer is a testament to the power of meme, nothing more. The running gag in Peanuts of Snoopy starting his novels with "it was a dark and stormy night" has a lot to do with it; as does the annual Bulwer-Lytton competition. But the fact of the populace getting it's literary opinions from cartoon strips should tell us more about the nature of modern pop culture than it does about the merits or demerits of Victorian authors.

brianvds

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Re: [Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2011, 07:24:49 AM »
I haven't taken the Dickens/Bulwer-Lytton test yet. I realized that if I wanted to take it, I'd have to read through a substantial amount of prose by the two of them. Now I wouldn't know about Bulwer-Lytton, but Dickens is absolute torture.

I confess I am biased. I do not read much fiction of any kind, greatly preferring non-fiction. And when I do read fiction, it is mostly easily digestible pulp fiction. I have tried Dickens on occasion, and even managed to get through "Oliver Twist," but heaven have mercy, I don't think I have ever been so bored. Perhaps I'll acquire a taste if I keep on trying.

I have my doubts about the utility of the quiz though. I did do the Einstein/Hitler quiz, and scored about at chance level. But does this really, honestly, mean that there is nothing to choose between Hitler and Einstein? Surely not!? Thus my impression is that what the quiz illustrates is that one cannot really judge a book by reading single paragraphs from it. Even the best writers may write very silly paragraphs, even as part of a book that is on the whole quite great. And even very bad writers can perhaps write a good paragraph here and there. And perhaps most single paragraphs from ANY book are fairly run of the mill and cannot tell you much about the overall value of the book.
Brian
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