Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Charles Dickens-What He Means to Me on His Bicentenary...

Charles Dickens
200 years ago on the 7th February 1812, Charles Dickens was born.  There's even a Google doodle to mark the day.

There will be a wreath laying ceremony at Dickens grave in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey- where he was buried in 1870, as well as at his birthplace in Portsmouth.

Among the numerous world-wide events taking place, the Charles Dickens Museum in London  will be open between 12pm and 5pm to celebrate.

Introduction to Dickens will often have been by the films of his stories, Oliver Twist among them, either the 1948 black and white version or the better known colour version from 1968.

Personally I've had an intermittent relationship with Dickens and his novels for the last thirty plus years...

In secondary school my English class read through the play version of Oliver Twist; I took the part of Fagin. And as a member of the choir, one year we performed a number of Lionel Bart's songs from the 1968 version of Oliver for an open evening- and I can still remember a lot of the words...

Great Expectations followed in my O'level English Literature course.

Over the last ten years the spirit of Dickens has been around every time I go to my writers' club. Though we meet in the third generation building on a different site the Nottingham Mechanics hosted one of Dickens' reading tours; as did the hotel where the writers' club celebrated it's 70th anniversary dinner. The link to the great writer in the location was considered...

When you realise many of his works were written as serials for 'news' publications you can appreciate his genius. He didn't have months to write the next episode, his deadlines were very much shorter, and he needed a cliff-hanger each time so the readers would buy the next issue to find out what happened next.

Like all writers he observed the world and the people around him and he wrote what he knew about, however harsh the lives he portrayed, he reflected that reality in his writing.

142 years after his death, people are still buying and reading his books, and television is still dramatising his better known works...

That is a great literary heritage...

4 comments:

Baggy said...

I've never read any Dickens. But I recently saw the David Lean film of Great Expectations - cracking story.

Maxi said...

Interesting piece, Carol. Dickens really wrote some amazing novels and was totally astute in his observations of contemporary life. Funny enough though, one of his most well known ones, Oliver Twist, is my least favourite.

Carolb said...

Dickens stories have depth and wonderful characters, which enables such great visual versions, as you mention, Baggy.


I certainly agree with you, Maxi on Dickens observations of life and the surroundings which he then produced on the page.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

A fascinating writer, Carol - I love several of his novels, especially Great Expectations. Funnily enough I mentioned him on my Flights of Imagination blog yesterday!