07 February 2014

Top Five Friday: Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens

No novelist has ever captured more poignantly the brightness and magic and terror of the world as seen through the eyes of a child.
~ Edgar Johnson

Beginning in January, I am participating in the One Page a Day Challenge.  Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have 365 pages worth editing.  I’m also trying to follow My Plan for 2014.  I may need therapy in December.  Oh wait…

oday marks two very different anniversaries, with one thing in common: they both involve Englishmen.

Two hundred + two years ago, Charles Dickens was born.

And a mere fifty years ago today, The Beatles landed on our shores in a rocking British invasion.

Thank goodness we patched things up after that whole mishap in 1812.

It’s also the birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but she’s not British, so she only gets a candle and a cupcake.

And since most people are already inundated with Beatles anniversary mania (ladies, don’t try to hide ~ we saw the pictures!), I’m going to focus today’s Top Five on dear old Charlie.

He is apparently a literary god in England ~ there are museums, societies, reading groups dedicated solely to Dickens.  You would think he was the only English author of note.  Even more so than William Shakespeare, which for this American, seems weird.  Not that I don’t love Dickens ~ I do.  But Willy was no slouch!

Maybe Dickens has a better PR guru.

Whatever the reason, his work has staying power, as evidenced that all the books highlighted below have been made into at least one movie or PBS special.

Even as a child, the image of Miss Habersham sitting in the midst of rotting cake in her faded wedding gown was creepy and striking.  I was with Pip in thinking I knew who his benefactor was.  But it was the dusty wedding dress that has stayed with me ~ a sad picture of rejection and madness.

Another childhood favorite, I read my rare, tattered hardback copy several times.  My mother had a vinyl of the 1968 film soundtrack with Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, and I fell in love with Mark, and would sing along with Shani Wallis’ Nancy.

Every child feels embattled at times, and to read a story about an orphan who suffers tremendously and is saved at the end was comforting.

Image credit: Google Images + MDeigh
“It was the best of times, the worst of times…”  The most romantic figure of my childhood was Sydney Carton, the Englishman who takes Charles Darnay’s place on the guillotine.  I cried buckets of childish tears, thinking Lucie was very silly to not love him, but at the same time, I admired the depth of his courage and love.

No greater love hath man….

Hopefully we’re past that point where you see the title of this book and think magic, illusion and smoldering eyes.  When I see this, I see Uriah Heep saying, “Very ‘umble, sir” and think, Heep rhymes with creep, ugh!

I also thought Dora was a bit of dunce and could never figure out why David married her.  Must have been the great hair.

Such a fitting name.  And such a great novel with incredible layers.  My favorite line: “Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself."

I can understand, mi’lady.  I have days like that.

What?  A Christmas Carol didn’t make the list!? Blasphemy!

Everyone with half an appreciation for Christmas movies, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, or the Muppets is familiar with the Christmas Carol.  Which just proves the staying power of Dickens’ storytelling.  In all his works, he had a social agenda.  But it came second to the story.

And that’s how an artist impacts his world  ~ by being true to the art first.

Well done, sir, and happy 202nd birthday.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What is your favorite Dickens’ novel?

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