Dickens's troubled relationship with his father is featured in a new BBC4 documentary about fathers in fiction. Novelist and filmmaker Andrew Martin explains,
The one standard Victorian patriarch in Dickens is Dombey in Dombey and Son,
and his rigidity has calamitous results. Closer to the norm for Dickens
are William Dorrit and Mr Micawber, self-regarding, impecunious men,
prone to hysteria and immature compared with the young people around
them. They are modelled on Dickens's father, John, who sponged off his
son and was a source of constant exasperation. Dickens once wrote of
his father: "How slow he is growing to be a man."
"This lord was sincere in his violence and in his wavering. A nature prone to false enthusiasm, and the vanity of being a leader, were the worst qualities apparent in his composition. All the rest was weakness -- sheer weakness; and it is the unhappy lot of thoroughly weak men, that their very sympathies, affections, confidences -- all the qualities which in better constituted minds are virtues -- dwindle into foibles, or turn into downright vices."
So Dickens has finally introduced us to Lord George Gordon, the real historical figure on whom much of the plot of the novel turns. Interestingly, he seems to be painting Gordon largely as a puppet of his secretary, Gashford (who was based on a real person as well; you can learn a little more about him here). I had to laugh at the little trick Dickens pulled on us at the beginning of chapter 36, to make us think that Gashford was sincere in his admiration for Gordon.
In related news, did you know Barnaby Rudge has its own Facebook page? Check it out! And this week, read chapters 37 and 38.
The second part of the two-part finale of our story has two parts. (You may have to think about that one for a minute.) Nina has written the final chapter (of which you read the first part last week), and I've written a short epilogue that will immediately follow her installment.
It has been a very great pleasure working with all of you on this story, and I think we should all be proud of what we've done! I hope we get to do it again sometime.
And now for part 2 of Nina's final chapter.
A great metal beast is the steam engine, tearing its way through the countryside, shrieking and clattering, leaving trails of evil black soot in its wake. How appropriate, then, that it was the chosen conveyance of Messrs. Pecksniff and Heep, as the sun rose once more, as they stirred from their lodgings with their companions, brought their deceit and falsehood along for the ride, and wound their way upon a clanging serpent into the hallowed cleanliness of the English landscape.
A little copse had been selected as the site—Jenny, unbeknownst to Mr. Dickens’ band, had been in possession of a map which she had observed covertly, and thus had been able to direct their rivals to this secluded place of advantage on the skirts of the Crossroads Inn. “This way, we can save you from public shame,” quoth Miss Wren, decisively, to Miss Trotwood’s satisfaction.
All of that group had traveled together—even Mr. Guppy, because Ada had protested it would be uncharitable to leave him behind in his condition. Though the knowledge that he’d been placed in Mr. Woodcourt’s especial care would likely have deathly mortified the law clerk. In fact, that young gentleman actually opened his eyes near the end of their journey. In his half-stupor, he could observe a tattered greyish sky over his head, and wondered what atmospheric complications had rendered such a singular firmament. Further studying told him it was in reality the dingy roof of a closed carriage, which induced him to wonder what he had gotten himself into. All of a sudden, he heard voices all around him.
Yesterday Christy pointed out that Dickens portrays a lot of nasty cats in his works. This is true, but Dickens's daughter Mamie tells us that her father actually had a bit of a soft spot for cats in real life. Click below to read her anecdote about Dickens and one especially persistent kitten.
Gerald Dickens gets a nice review here for his show in Portsmouth, his great-great-grandfather's birthplace. (Nina, don't miss the part about Uriah Heep. :-) ) There's also a new interview with him here.
You asked for it, you got it: the Creepiest Couples Competition! (You ghouls. :-) ) Submit your nominations below. Again, no made-up couples, please -- the people should have some sort of connection with each other. If you want to re-submit names from the Best Couples Competition -- say, Guppy/Esther, or Bradley/Lizzie, or the Lammles -- feel free to do so.
We won't be supplying icons of these creeps -- I've got something a little different in mind for them . . .