Charles Dickens’s Inner Child
January 7, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

‘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
posted by beisny (8 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting this, it's a good article, I almost did but went with door-stopper WWII books. February 7 is his 200th birthday, I hope we see lots more CD posts in the next 30 days (and someone does a 200th b-day post right, on his birthday).
posted by stbalbach at 12:57 PM on January 7, 2012

Excellent essay. It almost moves me to crack open Dickens.
posted by rodgerd at 1:42 PM on January 7, 2012

(inb4 "this is a little too thin for a post")

It's a great column as usual, but not particularly remarkable. I only wish that if I am one day forced to stare death in the face I am able to use that time to write articles about Charles Dickens.
posted by falameufilho at 2:04 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

In the moving eulogy he wrote for his friend and rival William Makepeace Thackeray, Dickens wrote of that author's "inner child" as well:

"He had a particular delight in boys, and an excellent way with them. I remember his once asking me with fantastic gravity, when he had been to Eton where my eldest son then was, whether I felt as he did in regard of never seeing a boy without wanting instantly to give him a sovereign? I thought of this when I looked down into his grave, after he was laid there, for I looked down into it over the shoulder of a boy to whom he had been kind."

posted by Ian A.T. at 3:41 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Pretty good, if perhaps a bit too seasonal an article.

Looking forward to Hitch's next piece.
posted by markkraft at 6:11 AM on January 8, 2012

stbalbach- my wife is writing a piece on CD for his 200th right now! One of many scribes doing so I am sure.
posted by T10B at 6:52 AM on January 8, 2012

Looking forward to Hitch's next piece.

Is this a joke?

I really enjoyed this - I've read a bit of Dickens (mostly in school) but know very little about the guy. I had no idea about his feelings on Americans. Interesting!
posted by naoko at 7:27 AM on January 8, 2012

protracted obligatory celebration

Not for adults who accept responsibility for the quality of their lives and are free to make of it what they want.

Sometimes we're swallowed by things to which we once gave our tacit assent. That kind of binding can be reversed by simply undoing it. Then if we once again freely assent to making (whoever)'s holiday brighter, we're buoyed by our conscious assent. When Nancy Reagon said "Just say no", there was some actual substance to that. (Now I'll never mention that name again.)
posted by Twang at 10:12 AM on January 8, 2012

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