What the Dickens!

I couldn’t let the day pass without acknowledging that it is 200 years today since Charles Dickens, perhaps the greatest English novelist of the Victorian era, the second of eight children, was born on 7 February 1812 at Landport, near Portsmouth, Hampshire. So…

 

Happy Birthday Dickens!

Though not poor as such, the family went through difficult times and young Charles Dickens certainly experienced and saw hardship first-hand, images and memories that stayed with him and manifested themselves over and again through the pages of his life’s work.

Photo via wikipedia

I’ve yet to start one of his books this year, though I have plans to read his last novel ‘Our Mutual Friend’ and ‘David Copperfield’, the latter said to be close to his own childhood experiences and perhaps less painful for him to write than his abandoned attempt to write his own autobiography, which he found too distressing to continue.

It is a testament to his popularity that his works have never been out of print and continue to be read as much today as they did when they were serialised in publications in the 19th century.

To experience or learn more of Dickens world, there is Claire Tomalin’s recently published ‘Charles Dickens,  A Life’ , an exhibition at the Museum of London and a brilliant website where you can get completely lost in Dicken’s facts and memorabilia.

My favourite commemoration thus far, would have to be Dovegreyreaders scribbles in relation to his support and inspirational campaigning for England’s first children’s hospital, the great and wonderful GOSH, Great Ormond Street Hospital.

So, do you have a favourite Dickens novel or plan to read one this year?

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17 thoughts on “What the Dickens!

  1. I reread A Tale Of Two Cities a couple of years ago.

    I get the too distressing part. There have been things from my life I’ve tried to use in stories and if I got too close, it pushed me back.

    • Yes, it intrigues me that he was better able to channel his own experience through his imagination and that he knew to stop the other activity.

      There’s the element of adventure and the unknown in coming to write a page of fiction, whereas to look back to the past is to have been there already and know what is going to happen, in his case, with some dread.

  2. Ive been meaning to read Our Mutual Friend, but the prospect fills me with dread. What if I can’t finish it? I did read Dan Simmons Stood, which was good the first half.

    • Read a few reviews where people talk about this being their favourite or any other favourite you choose and just keep reading until the end. Though I do find if a book is hard going that I might read another alongside it just to remind me that it is possible to read other books with ease. But there is satisfaction in finishing a classic and finding some joy.

  3. Apart from a Christmas Carol, I have to confess I’ve never been able to handle Dickens. I have tried. I appreciate what an important figure he was in English literature, and that he’s massively popular, but he’s not one for me!

    • I don’t think I’ve read ‘A Christmas Carol’ will put that one down for a December read I think. At least the films are enjoyable and enable us to access those of his books we can’t get into.

  4. Thinking about Great Expectations this year. Although right now I am slogging through Les Miserable (Hugo) and it IS a slog, like eating an entire loaf of bread with no butter or anything to drink. Some of these classic writers would never, ever get published in today’s marketplace.

  5. Great Expectations is one of my favourites – in fact there is a DVD of the new BBC adaptation which was excellent. They had to remove many of the minor characters and incidents but otherwise it was true to the original and Gillian Anderson did an excellent turn as Miss Havisham. A good option for time-pressed people. Writing before the birth of movies and TV, Dickens’ novels make excellent films – in fact his work is the most filmed of all our classical authors. I guess it is the wealth of great characters and compelling narrative that translates so well. Now back to Dombey and Son. Page 150 – only 650+ to go!

  6. My book club has picked “Great Expectations” for this summer and has allowed two months for it! Perhaps we’ll watch the BBC adaptation at our meeting. Thanks for the tip, aixcentric! When I post my review, I’ll need those links you shared Claire- thanks ahead of time for the help!

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