I am soooo behind on my blogging. There seems to be a renaissance in Charles Dickens biograhies these days. It has been twenty years since the last one was written. Claire Tomalin (my favorite biographer) is currently working on a book and Michael Slater has just released his. It will be available in the U.S. November 10th.
I have not read everything Dickens ever wrote. Not by a long shot. I think Masterpiece Theatre is partially responsible for this. Many of Dickens greatest novels have been expertly serialized for the ‘small screen.” My sense is that this TV-ization of Dickens has led to a decline in his readership. Yet, I would be willing to wager the number of people who could give a synopsis of one of his novels without having actually read one is huge. It is also fascinating to think the TV versions were presented to the public in the same form Dickens came to the public in the mid 19th century: serialization.
My great grandfather’s complete set of Dickens is housed in my family’s cottage in Wisconsin. This is my preferred place to read Dickens. When I was twenty-something, I chose to read Little Dorrit because it was the one Dickens novel I had not seen rendered in some sort of film version. Happily, that has been rectified (twice, in 1988 and in 2009, I never saw the 1988 version, young motherhood and all that) and the recent BBC production was wonderful. I am looking forward to this biography. I will probably pick up Bleak House as a result. Biographies have that effect on me.
I found this bit of information to be very validating, since I am guilty of the same: “The sinister villain who entraps Oliver was named after his (actually friendly and helpful) workmate in the blacking factory, Bob Fagin.” The T-shirt admonition is apparently spot on. Be careful, or you’ll end up in my novel!