Wednesday, February 08, 2012

D is for Dickens

February 7 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, one of the towering literary giants of literature in English. I put it that way on purpose: While Dickens was English, he is one of the English writers who has most influenced other writers throughout the English-speaking world. He’s still so famous that he’s one of the few authors who are often referred to by their surname alone.

The video above from the BBC is a brief animated look at the life of Charles Dickens.

I first encountered Dickens in high school when we read and studied his best-selling novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Years later, I finally read A Christmas Carol, one of his best-known works, though I’d seen many of the movie versions, including the 1938 version starring Reginald Owen and Gene Lockhart, among others, and even odd versions like the one with Mr. Magoo.

However, while it was high school where I first read Dickens, I’d been aware of him pretty much my whole life. My family had the Authors Card Game (link is to Amazon), which included a portrait of Dickens.

However, it was my mother who introduced me to English literature, including Dickens. She was a self-described Anglophile and shared that love with me. I have to admit, however, that not all her enthusiasm transferred to me. Still, Dickens is one author I did enjoy, probably in part because he was a champion of the poor and of social reform. I have several e-book editions of his books.

The slang term “dickens”, meaning devil, is far older and is not, as some suppose, some sort of retaliation for Charles Dickens’ calls to end debtors’ prisons, workhouses and in support of other social reforms (though it may have originated—in the 16th century—from that surname).

So, happy birthday Mr. Dickens.

Charles Dickens' books are available as free text files from Project Gutenberg. They are also available from Amazon, which has free or low-cost Kindle editions as well as printed books.


Roger Owen Green said...

The DICKENS, you say!

Now that I think of it, I'm not at all sure I've actually read ANY of his work,although I've seen seemingly countless adaptations of, and variations on ACC, including the one with Magoo.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for this delightful video! I am a great Dickens fan myself and read many of his books,and saw TV series of several of his books. Many of my posts last year were dedicated to his books.
So thanks again for this post.He was certainly one of my favourite authors.
Have a great day!
Wil, ABC Wednesday Team.

Chubskulit Rose said...

Haven't read any of his writings.

Dairy Queen
Chubskulit, ABC Wednesday Team

Unknown said...

NPR did a great story to celebrate the occasion as did the BBC. We read a lot of Dickens in high school!
ABC Team