". . . And when the twigsome trees by the wayside (which, I suppose, never will grow leafy, for they never did) guarded here and there a dusty soldier . . ."
I'm reading The Uncommercial Traveller in the new Oxford University Press edition, and was delighted to come upon this passage on page 62. I get sick of bare branches in the winter, but now I won't mind them so much, because I have a wonderful new word to describe them. I don't know for sure that Dickens coined "twigsome," but I don't remember ever seeing it anywhere else (and my spelling & grammar function doesn't recognize it, not that that means much), so I'm going to guess that he did.
(I also got a good laugh out of this on the same page: "The revolving French light on Cape Grinez was seen regularly bursting out and becoming obscured, as if the head of a gigantic light-keeper in an anxious state of mind were interposed every half-minute, to look how it was burning.")
A couple of stage productions overseas have been getting some attention. Mike Poulton's adaptation, directed by James Dacre, is running in Northampton right now before embarking on a national tour; What's On Stage gives it a good review here. (By the way, those who enjoy reading plays as much as I do can buy a copy of that adaptation here!) Meanwhile, a very different version called A Tale of Two Cities: Blood for Blood, by Jonathan Holloway, ran at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last month. Though I don't like the sound of some of the changes they made to the story, it does sound like it would have been interesting, at least!
Blogger Marianne Goss, in a post titled "Alternative approaches to Dickens," writes that, when Dickens's wordiness wore her down, she went looking for other ways to enjoy his work:
I wouldn’t abandon Dickens’s novels, I’d watch them in performance. With his vivid descriptions of people and places and his masterful dialogue, Dickens is ideal for dramatization.
We all know there a lot of great Dickens adaptations out there, and certainly Dickens adapted is better than no Dickens at all. But I would tell Goss, if I had the opportunity, that one misses so much of Dickens's magic without his words. I'm not saying the words can't be difficult. Sometimes I have to wrestle with them. Sometimes, to be completely honest, they wear me down too. Recently, listening to an excellent audiobook of Our Mutual Friend recommended by my friend Kaitlyn, I had to take a break for a while when I got to the passage about Mr. Boffin's big reveal. It's not one of my favorite passages in Dickens, to put it mildly. And unfortunately, when you're dealing with an audiobook, it's not so easy skipping your least favorite passages.
But eventually I picked it back up and pressed play again, because even when he's not at his best, Dickens's words are worth it. I always come out happier and better for having read (or heard) them. So enjoy the adaptations by all means, but don't stay stuck there. Read them in installments if you have to -- another idea of Goss's, and one that I hope she follows through with -- but read them. In the end, you'll be glad you did.
As you know, I usually keep an open mind about adaptations. But I confess I feel a bit dubious about this:
"The drama, which has received a script commitment [at NBC], is described as a modern take on Dickens' second novel that was originally published as a serial in the 1830s. Twist's logline is as follows: A sexy contemporary take on Oliver Twist with a struggling 20-something female (Twist) who finally finds a true sense of family in a strange group of talented outcasts who use their unique skills to take down wealthy criminals."
The Dickens Society is inviting submissions for its 22nd Annual Dickens Symposium. The theme is "Interdisciplinary Dickens" and the symposium will be held next July at Boston University. Go here to get all the information! (And keep in mind that the Dickens Fellowship conference in Cararra, Italy, is going to be held about a week later, so if you're doing one you may not be able to do the other!)