Remembering Dickens

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 at 7:09 PM

February 7th marks the 195th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, among one of my favorite authors. We love him for his altogether unforgettable characters — both good and truly evil, his teeming representations of life in the mid-1800s and his generous sense of humor.

Rather than read every Dickens work, I savor one per year — working hard not to read them all too quickly. While I cannot help but ration my Dickens as there will be no more books forthcoming, back when he was writing, people greedily gobbled up his stories as they appeared in serials.

In celebration of his life, let us think about the rabid eagerness the people on the docks in Baltimore must have been feeling as the boat carrying the last chapter of The Old Curiosity Shop and the fate of Little Nell pulled in. A review by none other than Edgar Allen Poe (Chapter 3), describes the frenetic scene in which several people were pushed to their watery deaths by the restless crowd.

Today, getting to my next installment of Dickens is not quite so perilous. In the process of looking into Mr. Dickens for this post, I just came across a preface for an 1861 version of The Old Curiosity Shop by someone as big a fan as I am today. Checking my own bookshelves, I discovered I had somehow lent out or misplaced my own copy, so I browsed Google Book Search further and found an in-print edition to order. I got started with the 1861 version online, but I can't wait to get that Dickens' masterpiece back in my hand.


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