PBS is running "Masterpiece Madness" on its Facebook page, pitting classic characters against each other in various categories. Esther Summerson was knocked out early by Amy Dorrit, who was then knocked out herself by Elizabeth Bennet. Bella Wilfer also got knocked out in an early round. Right now David Copperfield, who previously beat out Oliver Twist, is competing with Daniel Deronda in the "Drifting Heroes Dispute."
To vote, you have to have a Facebook account, and I think you have to "like" the PBS page. Then, on their wall, you look for the "Masterpiece Madness" entry you want, open the comments, and look for the one that says "Like this comment to vote for [the character of your choice]."
A new film version of Oliver Twist will look quite different from previous versions. Screen at the Berlin Film Festival reports (look for the article titled "Pure Grass, Salt unveil 3D Twist"): "Ollie is a 17-year-old street gang member in London who helps with art heists (using acrobatic parkour moves) for stolen-goods dealer Fagin."
I happened across this passage in a Washingtonianarticle about the interrogating of Saddam Hussein:
Throughout his months in prison, Saddam was desperate for news of the outside world. He asked [George] Piro about what was happening in Iraq, how the rest of the world was changing, what Russia was up to. One day, he referred to A Tale of Two Cities, in which Charles Dickens sympathetically portrays an English prisoner in a French jail from whom news of the world is kept.
I . . . really don't know what to say about that.
(Except to point out that Charles Darnay was not English. Someone -- either the reporter, the interrogator, or the dictator himself -- didn't do his homework!)
If you've been around these parts any length of time, you know we're fortunate enough to have some wonderful writers here. One of them, Nina, has posted an explanation of how she imitates Dickens's style. Visit the new blog that she's co-moderating, and you too can learn to imitate The Inimitable!
The British suffer from several compulsions, among them royal weddings, the cooking and consuming of terrible food and the constant remaking of film-versions of their literary classics.
I have to believe that they really can't help themselves, especially when it comes to the likes of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. It's as if every 15 years the world was storming the gates of the British Broadcasting Company demanding a new version of "Pride and Prejudice."
Hey, don't blame the greats for being great. When you can tell a story like Dickens or Austen or the Brontes, people are going to want to hear it again and again.
I think it's time for a new fanfic challenge around here. (That's code for "I'm suddenly and unaccountably bored with every book I'm reading and I want some good new Dickensian short stories to read.")
Here's the deal: I will give you a paragraph from a novel by another 19th-century author. You may recognize the passage, or you may not; it doesn't really matter, though I'll go ahead and let you know where it's from when everyone's done with their stories (if no one's guessed it by then).
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Use it as your opening paragraph, and then build a Dickensian fanfic on it. It can, of course, be based on any Dickens book you desire.
Ready? Here's your paragraph:
"Unconscious of my presence, he began to pace the room in a state of fearful agitation, violently wringing his hands and uttering low groans or incoherent ejaculations. I made a movement to let him know that he was not alone; but he was too preoccupied to notice it. Perhaps, while his back was towards me, I might cross the room and slip away unobserved. I rose to make the attempt, but then he perceived me. He started and stood still a moment; then wiped his streaming forehead, and advancing towards me, with a kind of unnatural composure, said in a deep, almost sepulchural tone --"