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Archived Group Reads 2011 > All Things Dickens

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Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Thought it might be interesting to post some things we know about Mr Dickens. I found a few (well really a lot of facts) that I hadn't any idea of. ( for instance Dickens early alias was Boz and that he had only about five years of formal education and was largely self taught)

So everyone post away and let us get to know our upcoming author quite well.

message 2: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Oct 31, 2011 05:04PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) That is quite interesting and makes one wonder if or evenhow the novels would have been different if written without the constraints of Victorian society. What would he have said differently should he have lived in France at the time?

I read that Gilbert Keith Chesterton wrote many of the introductions to Dickens' novels. He said of Dickens He was the voice in England of this humane intoxication and expansion, this encouraging of anybody to be anything.

message 3: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments Very interesting excerpt, Marjorie, but I wonder if Dickens felt the same way about the English heroine. I mean, "always uninteresting -- too good" could be applied to some (but not all) of Dickens' heroines, and I wonder whether he disliked his good, angelic heroines, or whether it was only the English hero he found too unnaturally good?

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Valetta | 27 comments I share Nina's curiosity. What was Dickens' attitude towards his heroines? Because in his works he did seem to enjoy a lot depicting these angelic female figures. I'm thinking for example of Agnes in David Copperfield, so kind and meek, Dickens reserves for her a much better destiny than the one he assignes to Dora and little Emily. Has he ever desired a heroine a bit more "naughty"?

message 5: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 497 comments Did he "dare" to think of a more "naughty" heroine? Someone like Becky Sharp?

Elizabeth (Alaska) [cross-posted from the What are you Reading thread.]

My library has the first Slater, Dickens 1970, but not the second. But in doing a search, I found a video by the BBC, published in 2003:

Uncovering the real Dickens, by Peter Ackroyd, described as A recreation of Charles Dickens' extraordinary life using a mix of documentary and dramatic reconstruction.

message 7: by Deanne (new)

Deanne | 83 comments Understand that Dickens became estranged from his wife after the birth of their 10 children, but had a long term mistress.
I know that his was a rags to riches story with the family ending up in the Marshalsea for his father's debts, aside from Charles who ended up in a blacking factory. whole section on historic figures including Mr Dickens.

Elizabeth (Alaska) Started watching the video last evening. Five years before Dickens' death, and while he was serializing Our Mutual Friend, the train he was on wrecked because of track maintenance unknown to the engineer. The coach Dickens was riding in was the only one not to topple off the bridge, but it teetered precariously. He and his two unidentified female traveling companions were able to get out of the coach and Dickens gave aid to some of the injured.

Then he suddenly remembered the next installment of Our Mutual Friend was still on the train. At great personal peril, he went back to the train and retrieved it. He never missed a deadline!

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Super interesting, I love this knowing unknown things about famous authors. Thanks!

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Ah ha, so the plot thickens......I knew he had ten children plus a mistress. He was a very busy man.

Elizabeth (Alaska) His daughter, Kate, was married to Wilkie Collins.

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Who I believe was no saint either.....

Elizabeth (Alaska) And all our lives we have been led to believe Victorian society was such a strait-laced affair ...

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Martha (marthas48) They just 'seemed' strait-laced ... sort of like Americans in the 50s. LOL

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) How totally true.....they just hid it paparazzi following them around or appearances on Twitter, facebook, and the like....

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Marjorie, Do you think that these men were the norm or were they revolutionaries? How about George Eliot who also lived with a man? To me, they seem out of synch with what we know/believe of the Victorian era.

I do know that this era produced much pornographic material however.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 628 comments I think Oscar Wilde had it right when he wrote "Ours is an era of surfaces."

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) So, in your opinion, was Eliot a bit non conventional. I read that Lewes' wife was mentally imbalanced and had chilren with two other men.

It does seem that while mistresses and affairs were "expected, pardoned, condoned," for the men, women were held to a different standard. Not surprising there....

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) This is a case where fact is ever better than fiction. Thanks, Marjorie!

message 20: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Nov 03, 2011 05:59PM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) Again from the video --

Dickens said that he couldn't write a character until he'd named the character. Then he could make it come to life. In a part spoken by Kate Dickens, she described that her father as sometimes writing furiously, only to jump up and go to the mirror, make a series of strange faces, sometimes whisper words, and then rush back to his desk and again write furiously. He often acted out his writing before committing it to paper!

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE. Dickens was preoccupied with looking in the mirror and combing his hair - he did it hundreds of times a day. He rearranged furniture in his home - if it wasn't in the exact "correct" position, he couldn't concentrate. Obsessed with magnetic fields, Dickens made sure that every bed he slept in was aligned north-south. He had to touch certain objects three times for luck. He was obsessed with the need for tidiness, often cleaning other homes as well as his own.

His daughter Mamie wrote in a memoir that he ran his house like a hospital or battle station, everything had to be in its place.

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SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments I believe that the individual living within Victorian times was just as complicated as we are today. This discussion comes back around again pretty often I think because it fascinates so many of us. I think it is said that people did or did not do things in the past because they would have been socially shunned. I think that has always happened and still does, but people still make choices from within their inner realm, regardless of societal pressure. And even today, we can be "shunned" for many things -- being liberal in a conservative neighborhood, being thought "weird" for dressing differently, choosing a unique career -- and as you can tell, these are just the mild things! haha

And it really doesn't seem the case the Victorian men could go above and against society. I think men and women have always felt the pressure to accept social norms.

I guess I differ too in feeling that Dickens' women characters, even the good ones, are very believable. I think there are many people of "good" conscience who exist very realistically within the world. I don't think you need a Becky Sharp-type character to make the story interesting -- she is a whole different case in a whole different story. Dickens' characters, whether viewed as good or bad, did make poor choices and mistakes and suffered the consequences -- just like we do in real life.

message 23: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 07, 2011 06:54PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I find that very strange and somehow unnerving, myself.

Dickens was quite fond of nicknames and gave all his ten children nicknames. For examples his son, Edward's nickname was Plorn and his son, Sydney was nicknamed Skittles.

message 24: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Marjorie wrote: "Interesting bit in the review that I didn't know, because I never read the Ackroyd biography: Ackroyd didn't believe Dickens and Nelly Ternan ever had a sexual relationship. "

It just goes to show, as my mother told me half a century ago, "you can hear anything you've a mind to."

Sometimes I wonder whether we should stop all publishing about English literature for a generation, or at least for a decade. It seems to me sometimes that critics are writing things not really because they have anything remarkably meaningful to say, but because they need to do so to justify their one-course teaching loads. It must be hard to keep coming up with things to say that haven't already been said dozens of times before; maybe that's why we get such comments as Ackroyd's, or the revival of the seemingly endless and totally unresolvable controversy over who really wrote King Lear.

Or am I just a curmudgeonly cynic?

message 25: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 11, 2011 06:15PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) This is an excellent site from David Perdue on Dickens. There are many fascinating facts and items that one might find enlightening while reading our Dickens' books.

I also loved this page which shows the original illustrations of some of the characters from Bleak House.

message 26: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 17, 2011 02:14PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I found this interesting too!

Thanks, Marjorie!
It is about Claire Tomalin's writing about Dickens.

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Good for you, Marjorie. He surely was and is a bigger than life type author. He was and is fascinating. Keep us posted on the book you are currently reading.

message 28: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I'm not sure where to post this, but thought this might be a good place. I skimmed the above posts and didn't see this mentioned. If it has been mentioned and I missed it, apologies to all. :-)

I subscribe to TCM's "Now Playing" guide to their movies. In December Turner Classic Movie Channel is celebrating the Bicentennial of the birth of Charles Dickens by showing movies based on his books every Monday night. Yes, they (and I) know that Dickens was born on February 7, but they are doing this in December because of 'A Christmas Carol'.

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Marjorie wrote: "BBC Online News Magazine is running a piece titled "Charles Dickens: Six things he gave the modern world" in honor of Dickens' 200th birthday.

The first is our current perception of Christmas, a..."

wonderful article...Thanks, Marjorie

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Martha (marthas48) Thanks, Marjorie. I enjoyed the article.

message 31: by Deanne (new)

Deanne | 83 comments Looking forward to the new adaptions of Edwin Drood and great expectations.

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