Here is a follow up to a previous post: An interview with AD Harvey
, the man behind the Dickens meets Dostoevsky
hoax. [more inside]
Adam Thirlwell has written five essays
in as many years for The New Republic. They all concern themselves with literature, especially French, though the first one was about Charles Dickens
and how he was the most avant-garde writer of the 19th Century. The second was about Roland Barthes' plans to write a novel
which came to nothing when he died. In Visionary Materialism
, Thirlwell explores Rimbaud's Illuminations from several angles. Genocide and the Fine Arts
is about Claude Lanzmann, the director of Shoah, and his complicated relationship with his famous work. The latest one, Baudelaire's Humiliation as a Way of Life
, is about Baudelaire's place at the crux of the 19th Century revolution in letters.
When Dickens Met Dostoevsky. "So now the meeting between two literary giants had led me to two names with very little behind them: Stephanie Harvey, who had written only these two articles, and Leo Bellingham, whose chief claim to fame may be that he was once compared by Stephanie Harvey to Doris Lessing." [more inside]
is a catalog of invented books, pictures and antiquities written by 17th Century Englishman Sir Thomas Browne. It is a fantastical and witty meditation on the ravages of time on literature and other works of man
. The Musæum Clausum is perhaps the finest example of the invented, or invisible, library, a genre which seems to have originated with Rabelais
. The genre has been of special interest to Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog
), where he has written about the invisible libraries of writers such as Charles Dickens
, Neil Gaiman
, H. P. Lovecraft
and invisible libraries in video games
. The natural medium for invisible libraries might be pictures, and Musæum Clausum inspired a suite of etchings
by Erik Desmazieres.
Cities in dissolution.
"It’s a game for anyone who has ever wondered what happens in the grandest house in town once the lights go out at night. It’s for anyone who has ever seen two men slumped at a hotel bar and wondered what other secrets are contained in such temporary lives. Thief is a game for anyone who has ever walked through a city at night and thought, which parts are still breathing and what does each seclusion contain."
Rockpapershotgun's Adam Smith thinks about cities.
170 years ago, a gala ball was held in his honor on Valentine's Day
. Flattered by New York City's elites, the author considered the occasion the finest moment of his life, particularly since he felt the United States was an ideal example of how Britain's class-bound society should live. But in the following weeks, when besieged by fawning groupies and actually meeting directly with the less than well-heeled folk of the New World, that his disposition turned sour. [more inside]
‘Whatever you do—hang on to your childhood!’ He was true to this in his fashion, both in ways that delight me and in ways that do not. He loved the idea of a birthday celebration, being lavish about it, reminding people that they were once unborn and are now launched. This is bighearted, and we might all do a bit more of it. It would help me to forgive, perhaps just a little, the man who helped generate the Hallmark birthday industry and who, with some of his less imposing and more moistly sentimental prose scenes in A Christmas Carol, took the Greatest Birthday Ever Told and helped make it into the near Ramadan of protracted obligatory celebration now darkening our Decembers. - Christopher Hitchens writes about Charles Dickens in his last Vanity Fair column
Attorney General Holder mandates, at a minimum
, another season of the Dickensian TV serial
, The Wire
. David Simon and Ed Burns agree that they "are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire"
, with one small catch: "if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition". Simon, Burns, et al previously
on the futility of the war on drugs.
There are few works of greater scope or structural genius than the series of fiction pieces by Horatio Bucklesby Ogden, collectively known as The Wire;
yet for the most part, this Victorian masterpiece has been forgotten and ignored by scholars and popular culture alike. [more inside]
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol
has been reprinted
and re-told on film
numerous times, but the original 66 page manuscript has rarely been seen by the public. The manuscript was obtained by The Morgan Library & Museum
during the 1890s, where it is currently on display
. If you can't make it to New York this time of year, you can take a close look at 4 heavily edited pages
and attempt to decipher Dickens' original writing
, thanks to The New York Times
Coming soon to a theater near you: An American Carol
(not to be confused with the Dickens Christmas time classic
). This new film by David Zucker
features a slave-owning Michael Moore look-alike who is punched, slapped and otherwise cajoled by ghostly generals and country music stars into learning the true meaning of America, and a thing or two along the way about how to be a man.
"On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or thrice along the coach house, stopped to bark, staggered, exclaimed 'Halloa old girl!' (his favorite expression) and died... The children seem rather glad of it. He bit their ankles, but that was play..."
So wrote Charles Dickens, describing the death of his pet raven "Grip," in a letter to a friend. Grip has an interesting legacy
. Having served as an eponymous character in Dickens' Barnaby Rudge [full text]
and subsequently inspiring Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven [full text]
, Grip has the distinction of being named a literary landmark
. His taxidermied body
is on display in the Rare Book Department at the Philadelphia Free Library.
An informative, gossipy and surprisingly engaging
6-page exploration of the life of Charles Dickens, including his up-and-down relationship with the U.S. press
, his inexcusable behavior
during his messy and very public separation from his wife, the "histrionic flair"
of his performance career, and, of course, his works, including the one George Bernard Shaw called "a more seditious book than Das Kapital
." Lots of interesting images, too.
There are many ways to learn about the life and times of Charles Dickens. There are numerous web pages
But can any of them compare to the immersion experience of Dickens World
Don't miss the many attractions
. The kids will love playing in Fagin's Den while you visit the Haunted House of Ebenezer Scrooge. And don't leave too early or you'll miss the evening's entertainment. "A series of 'burlesque' evening dinner shows are being especially created to provide a nightly menu of 'naughty delights' in the 'Free and Easy' Victorian Music Hall."
Huck Finn, Heart of Darkness
, A Tale of Two Cities
, and others
- free audio books. Text and audio on the web, or downloadable mp3s with embedded text.
An Interactive Map of Charles Dickens' London.
After you have had a chance to peruse the map, see then and now pictures
or take a quiz
about Dickens' London
. If you want to see it with your own eyes, take a walking tour
. Or if you are daring enough, you can try to virtually survive Dickens' London
I sometimes look up at the bit of blue sky
High over my head, with a tear in my eye.
Surrounded by walls that are too high to climb,
Confined like a felon without any crime...
Flaubert on Structural Unity.
"I’ve just read 'Pickwick' by Dickens. Do you know it? Some bits are magnificent; but what a defective structure! All English writers are like that. Walter Scott apart, they lack composition. This is intolerable for us Latins". Extracts from the letters of Flaubert (via the very awesome book coolie)
The Dickens Project.
Today is also the birthday of Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
, English novelist, who in his American Notes
of 1842 made numerous scathing observations about speech patterns he had noted during his five-month visit to the United States that year. He wrote, for example, that once he had left the more cosmopolitan areas of New York
, nasal drawls were the rule, the grammar was "more than doubtful," and the "oddest vulgarisms
" were "received idioms." he was so caustic that the normally mild and diplomatic Ralph Waldo Emerson
was moved to defend his countrymen from Dickens's characterizations: "No such conversations ever occur in this country, in real life, as he relates. He has picked up and noted with eagerness each odd local phase that he met with, and when he had a story to relate, has joined them together, so that the result is the broadest caricature."
YEAH Ralph! Back in the day, that was what we would now call a "Verbal Beatdown
" (Nas lyrics, probably NSFW)
Diagnosing Tiny Tim
An interesting parlor game among pediatricians is to determine the ailment that afflicted the character Tiny Tim from a Christmas Carol. The most likely suspects include renal tubular acidosis
or a vitamin D deficiency
due to excessive London industrial smog, both of which result in rickets
. (This would explain why Tiny Tim needed a crutch). Given that Tiny Tim's condition was likely curable if Scrooge paid Cratchit more money, this has inspired one right-wing contrarian
to argue that Scrooge should have worked a little Malthusian magic
by letting Tiny Tim die.