Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Celebrating a Dickens anniversary

There are always anniversaries of famous authors that litter the calendar but today's, the 200th anniversary of  the birth of Charles Dickens, is one of those that has captured the imagination.

It is perhaps because his books are not only still in print and read but also because they are the staple source, along with Jane Austen, for those television executives looking for something to turn into a costume drama. Only a few weeks ago the latest incarnation of Great Expectations finished on the BBC and there are bound to me more Dickens in the future.

We had a set of his books in the house when I was growing up all in uniform dark brown covers with gold capital letters across the spine indicating the title of the book. The set put me off reading him for a long time because it was oppressive and rather intimidating. The way the books were bound in that dark uniform set seemed to squash any ideas in my mind that they would be full of wonderful characters and transport me to a different world.

Not different in the sense of overseas as much as time traveling back to a dirty, squalid and often unfair London where Dickens managed to cast a light into a world of hardship, cruelty but often love. He did it with great characters and as I discovered them, and there are still more to come as I never finished that set, I began to understand just why he was such a good writer.

So happy anniversary to Dickens and may his wonderful characters be enjoyed by many generations to come.

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