Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Happy Birthday Mr Dickens

Blogging is a bit light at the moment, as a result of the twin pressures of work and short story writing  - at the moment if it's not one, it's the other.  Anyway, I thought I ought to acknowledge his 200th birthday  - and look forward to that of Mr Trollope (who was much better) in 2015.  Sadly I missed Surtees' in 2005, as he knocks them both into a cocked hat.... 

There was an interesting discussion on the radio this evening about whether all these anniversaries are simply an excuse for creative laziness - hacks and marketing types simply looking for the next hook to the past, rather than genuinely progressing.  I think there's probably something in that, although it all depends how you do it, and what your take on the continuining relevance of the anniversary being commemorated is.

Dickens of course was the preeminent hack of his time - writing to order and publishing magazines as outlets for his own work.  Unlike Trollope, he never made the mistake of putting down his writing routine in an autobiography (which was the kiss of death for Mr T's reputation amongst those who maintained that the muse doesn't appear to fill a quota).  It's trite to say that the work of either is the nineteenth century equivalent of a soap opera, but it's also true.  The recent BBC adaptations of Bleak House, and more particularly Little Dorrit, show only too well how Dickens was the master of suspense, melodrama, and good plot driven character development.  He deserves his place on the shelves of the 21st century booksellers, even if the educational establishment worries that he's no longer suitable for the A level curriculum.

But, he still didn't write The Way We Live Now....

Coming soon, my Grandfather's journey from Cape Town to Kariba, by tractor, in the 1950s.  I might even get a short story out of that as well - two birds with one stone and all that!

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