Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Happy Birthday Chuck
The man this blog owes its name to is 200 today. Or would be. Charles Dickens' memory was feted today around the globe, and events will be continuing all year. In London, this exhibition traces the links between the writer and the capital city he chronicled. Dickens had links with Manchester too of course. He was close to Elizabeth Gaskell, this city's greatest nineteenth century writer; he encouraged, edited and published many of her works, and was involved, like Gaskell, in social campaigns to improve life for the poorest in and around this metropolis.
It seems fashionable to berate news organisations for marking this anniversary. Tonight writer Jenny Diski told BBC Radio 4's PM that ...
...she'd been sick of Dickens' anniversary year since January 1st, and that the whole thing was symptomatic of "lazy programming". It seems a little strange that a writer would criticise the media for celebrating the life and work of a great author. (Would she prefer more reality TV-related items, perhaps?) Meanwhile Dickens' biographer Claire Tomalin used the occasion to lambast the attention span of today's youth who apparently can no longer concentrate long enough to get to the end of one of his sentences. (I do have some sympathy with said youth.)
Whether or not your attention span has been withered by the deficiencies of the education system, you might enjoy listening to an acclaimed adaptation of Our Mutual Friend, being broadcast this week and next on Radio 4 extra.
Charles Dickens, Jenny Wren and Bella Wilfer salutes you.