It didn't help that my only experiences with Dickens were an interminable term in high school forced through Great Expectations, and the annual television viewing of one or another version of the melodramatic romp of A Christmas Carol.
But things are different now, and so am I. I'm not in the academic grip of modernism, nor postmodernism for that matter. I'm in no academic grip at all. Nor do I read for money much anymore. I can read what I like.
These days I'm liking Charles Dickens, perhaps because I've become acquainted with his work through Bleak House, one of his later big novels which some consider his best. Some call it the best English novel of the 19th century.
I was startled by the freedom and virtuosity of Dickens in Bleak House as well as his powers of description. In the immense space of that novel he could be satirical and naturalistic, transparently heartfelt and slyly ironic. Some of it bordered on surrealism. The moderns must have stolen a lot from Dickens, perhaps even while denouncing him.
Having the plot clarified and seeing the characters portrayed did not disturb my reading at all, partly because I was reading in considerable degree for other elements.
At my age I read for the experience of it, while I'm reading. I don't worry about how much I retain. Well, I do notice the loss, but it doesn't stop me from reading as much as I can. One thing has remained true, and perhaps become more true: I read not so much for story or even characters but for the diction, the vocabulary, the rhythms. The words, the sentences, and so on. I guess you can say I read for a good time, but what constitutes a good time for me would probably mystify most people.