Friday, November 22, 2013

The Dickens Schism: Sales, Critical Acclaim, or Personal Fulfillment?

I thought I blogged about this before, but I was searching for the post and I can't find it. So I guess my memory is just faulty or the post is hiding! ANYWAY.

The very famous Charles Dickens and his works fall victim to one of the most interesting, thought-provoking phenomenons of literature.

His novel, Bleak House, is commonly called his ultimate masterpiece.
His novel, A Tale of Two Cities, is his bestselling novel and also the best selling single work of fiction of all time (at least according to Wikipedia).
His novel, David Copperfield, is the novel he loved the most, the one of which he mentioned when he said, " many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield."

Now, this schism of critical acclaim, popular acclaim, and personal fulfillment is, as far as I know, unique only to the works of Dickens.

The reason why this is so interesting: it's up to us to decide which of the three is the most important.

This will be a Discussion For You (I haven't had one in a long time). On Monday, I'll post my own opinion as to which, to me, is the most important of the three (I do have an answer, and it's not a cop-out answer).

First question: How should a book be measured? By the critics' love, the public's interest, or the author's love?
Second question: Which of the three (critic's love, public's interest, or author's love) is the most important?

Discuss in the comments! 

P.S. Barnes and Noble is having an awesome pre-Black Friday "Discovery Friday" sale TODAY. I am so so so so excited. It's the only store I've been watching for Black Friday deals. I'm going to get lost in B&N today. It'll be bliss. I'm beyond excited. Squeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Anyway, keep discussing in the comments! I want to know what you think :)


  1. Critics are just that - critics. I'd say the book readers love is the most important.
    And I admit, when it comes to Dickens, A Christmas Carol is my favorite.

  2. I agree with Alex. If you're just writing a book for you, don't bother publishing. But if you go to the trouble of publishing (either self, or going through the agent-big house dance) you're doing so because you want PEOPLE to read and like it. Of course, if the critics like it as well, that's OK too....

  3. Readers (well, future readers) are definitely the primary people I write for. But I do want to make money from this some day, so I have to think about what's selling as well. As for critical acclaim, I could take it or leave it. I never pay attention to critic's reviews because I don't need too -- I'm a pretty good judge of what I like and dislike without outside opinions. So I guess I presume my readers will do the same, even though that's probably not entirely true.