Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sketches of Young Gentlemen and Couples by Charles Dickens

I wanted to read something by Charles Dickens before my trip and this looked interesting. Plus the library didn’t have David Copperfield or A Christmas Carol.

Sketches of Young Gentlemen and Young Couples is a collection of ‘sketches’ of different stereotypes of men and couples in Victorian Times. Sketches of Young Gentlemen was written in response to Sketches of Young Ladies by Edward Caswall (aka ‘Quiz’), and so Sketches of Young Ladies is also included in this slim volume. The people profiles include:

- The Young Lady who Sings
- The Literary Young Lady
- The Mysterious Young Lady
- The Bashful Young Gentlemen
- The Political Young Gentlemen
- The Funny Young Gentlemen
- The Loving Couple
- The Couple who Dote upon their Children
- The Egotistical Couple

And much more. In total there are 24 sketches of Young Ladies, 12 of Young Gentlemen and 11 of couples.

There’s also a really long introduction that I stopped reading, although I did learn that “the journalistic format of short fiction, essays, sketches, serials, and miscellaneous writings was very much the dominant mode of publication in the 1830s.

Personally, I really enjoyed these sketches, even those that weren’t by Dickens. Maybe it’s because I’ve read some older fiction, but I recognised a lot of the tropes and enjoyed the satirisation of them. They’re also pretty short, so it’s easy to read a sketch or two when I have some free time.

The main difference between Dickens and Caswall’s sketches is that Caswall speaks a lot more in generalities while Dickens tends to focus on one example of the stereotype. I like both styles so I don’t really have a preference (and they’re not that different anyway).

If you want to try reading Charles Dickens but don’t want to read one of his novels (because they can be quite long), you should consider Sketches of Young Gentlemen and Couples. It’s a pretty slim volume and good for a chuckle, which makes it easy to read.


  1. What an interesting collection! This isn't something I would normally gravitate towards, but it does sound like a worthwhile read. I am glad you enjoyed this one. I'll have to add it to my wish list.

    1. It's funny(: Hope you get a chance to read this too!


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