Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Charles Dickens
Is there anyone in the English speaking world who can’t provide a quote from at least one of Charles Dickens’ many works? I’d wager most everyone knows “God bless us, everyone.” Or maybe it is the opening to A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…“
From Dickens’ wiki:
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.
It is set among the marshes of Kent and in London in the early to mid-1800s. From the outset, the reader is “treated” by the terrifying encounter between Pip, the protagonist, and the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch. Great Expectations is a graphic book, full of extreme imagery, poverty, prison ships, “the hulks,” barriers and chains, and fights to the death. It therefore combines intrigue and unexpected twists of autobiographical detail in different tones. Regardless of its narrative technique, the novel reflects the events of the time, Dickens’ concerns, and the relationship between society and man.
Ah yes, “…extreme imagery, poverty, prison ships…” It is because of Dickens’ writings on poverty that we have the word “Dickensian” defined as:
of Charles Dickens or his works
(resembling or suggestive of conditions described in Dickens’ novels, esp)
squalid and poverty-stricken ? “working conditions were truly Dickensian”
characterized by jollity and conviviality ? “a Dickensian scene round the Christmas tree”
grotesquely comic, as some of the characters of Dickens
There is a Dickens Museum in London where manuscripts and much other Dickens memorabilia is available for research as well as viewing.
According to the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) Dickens’ works have been adapted to film, TV movies, TV series, and cartoons 338 times. By my rough count, A Christmas Carol alone has been adapted in some form or another nearly 60 times, sometimes just using the characters; other times, using the entire story. Sometimes it has been updated to modern times, others as cartoons.
So what is your favorite Dickens character? What is your fave Dickens story?
Picture from Smabs Sputzer licensed under Creative Commons