Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Charles Dickens 200
Today is Charles Dickens 200th birthday. I have been a big Dickens fan for years, though I know people who aren't. I have read all of his work except Sketches by Boz and Master Humphrey's Clock, some of them multiple times. I love Great Expectations; I see more of myself in Pip than I feel comfortable admitting. To me, Bleak House taps into a well of anxiety and fear of the future, and our inability to control it. The only contemporary author who can do that as well is Peter Carey. Just thinking about Carey's Oscar and Lucinda, or Jarndyce v. Jarndyce in Bleak House, makes me want to pop a Klonopin.
On Sunday, there was a notice in our church bulletin from the rector suggesting that should we feel so moved, we should choose a Dickens novel to read in celebration of his anniversary. I have not read David Copperfield in many years. I'm about a hundred pages into it, and it's even better than I remember. The wicked Mr. Murdstone sends David off to school. David finds the sign that says: Beware of him. He bites. And there's David looking around for a dog, not realizing the sign is for him!