Well, it’s still the 7th of February on the west coast, but I missed it for the rest of the country! My best intentions didn’t pan out. Today marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth and I would have enjoyed reminding everyone much earlier, but I had a very busy day. Even belatedly, it’s still a good opportunity to talk about one of the world’s most famous authors.
Dickens wasn’t short on words! His books were published in installments, making them the pulp fiction of the day, which also made them more affordable. Some critics review his books as cheap soap operas. Oscar Wilde said that you would have to have a heart of stone to read of the death of little Nell without laughing! Oh well. I don’t really agree, but I don’t think Dickens needs my defense.
I don’t know that I have a valuable book collection, but I have an interesting one. I’ve collected books all my life, and was particularly fortunate to acquire several wonderful sets and editions when we purchased this house. One of the collections that most pleases me is a 30 volume Complete Works of Dickens. The editions don’t have a publication date, but the previous owner of the books dated one volume 1917. They are in excellent, readable condition, and they are valuable to me anyway!
I also have a large Illustrated Works of Dickens which includes six of the more popular titles. This book is in good condition–considering it was published in 1879–just nine years after Dickens’ death.
There was a time, and not that long ago, when many households had volumes similar to those in my collection. But library space today is at a premium. Also, we are unusual in that we have lived in our home for more than 35 years. If we ever choose to “downsize” I’m in real trouble with my books!
Dickens may officially belong to the English, but he is celebrated in countries all over the world. When I was in high school Dickens was a mandatory read! I would love to know if that is still true or if he has been bumped to make room for more current authors–perhaps those who were born less than 200 years ago!
I am fairly sure that school children today must find Dickensian language, settings and characters rather archaic–no Harry Potter, that’s for sure, but I’m old…to me the stories are really timeless and I kind of relish the “flowery” language and Victorian settings. I say that, and yet I haven’t read more than the most famous titles. I didn’t really think of how many I have yet to read until I looked on my bookshelves this evening. It may take me the next 200 years, but I like a good challenge and hope to one day say that I’ve read them all. I’d better get started!
I’d love to know if you have a current interest in putting Dickens in that huge pile of books that sits next to your bed. You know, the one that never gets any shorter, no matter how much you read? I know…I have one of those, too.
I’ll close for now… I need to have a little time to read before I close out my day! Debra