, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had another blog planned for today, but I learned it was Charles Dickens 200th birthday today and changed courses. Dickens makes me feel like the worst English major ever. I haven’t really read a lot of his work. A Christmas Carol but that’s pretty standard. I tried Great Expectations when I was a little girl because I knew Dickens was a great writer and I should be familiar with him. Didn’t happen. That’s the thing about Dickens: even people who don’t consider themselves “readers” have heard of Dickens. Many of us have seen A Christmas Carol one way or another. A sitcom will do it’s take on it–the evil character on it’s show will become Scrooge. There have been many film variations of A Christmas Carol. There have been traditional Christmas Carols with different actors playing Scrooge so people can line up and argue who was the best Scrooge. There are cartoon reditions of Christmas Carol. The Muppets have done A Christmas Carol. We may not consider ourselves “readers” or in “the literary know”, but we know Dickens is a great writer.

That’s the other thing about Dickens–he had so much other work besides A Christmas Carol and not many people know about it (or they could be like me and know about it but haven’t read it).
I’ve come close. One of my favorite writers says she never took a creative writing class. All she did was read and she read mostly Dickens. She has been “accused” of wrapping up her novels in a Dickens way, building to a great ending then wrapping up in a couple of paragraphs. I think “accused” is a harsh word. I would enjoy being compared to Dickens. her endings have always fit, made sense, and satisfied. I think they’re just sad they don’t get to read her work for a few more pages.

We’ve seen Dickens elsewhere in pop culture. There is a great “The Avengers” episode (the British ” The Avengers”, John Steed and Emma Peel (and Cathy Gale and Tara King)…before people hyperventilate and wonder how they could have missed that story) where Steed’s mind is being invaded by a group of mind readers. One of the mind readers is obessessed with Dickens. They’re having a Dickens Christmas and have to come dressed as a character from his work. The rooms are named after stories and characters. It lends itself to tongue-in-cheek jokes.

Tonight’s “NCIS” episode had a Dickens flair to it and I couldn’t help wondering if it was intentional or not because of when it aired. Gibbs is shot and he is visited by 3 ghosts of sorts to show him how he has effected people.

Even if a majority of people know him for one story, it’s a versatile story that has reached and resonated with millions of people around the world and across generations. Not so bad to be known for one story. Hasn’t hurt George Lucas. 🙂