On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, it's worthwhile for us Dickensians to recall and appreciate his immense influence on the novelist we love. As Paul Schlicke tells us, "For Dickens Shakespeare was 'the great master who knew everything,' whose plays were 'an unspeakable source of delight.' It has been well said that 'No one is better qualified to recognise literary genius than a literary genius,' and no other author has had so profound an effect on Dickens."
When Sarah Rees Brennan writes on the dedication page of her new Young Adult novel, Tell the Wind and Fire, "This work is most respectfully dedicated to C.D.," she's not kidding. Her book is a beautiful and moving tribute to A Tale of Two Cities, as well as a stunning work of fiction in its own right. Like all the best tributes, it lovingly honors the work that it's based on while adding fresh and striking ideas of its own.
As you may recall from the excerpt we ran a couple of months ago, Tell the Wind and Fire is set in a future society divided into Light and Dark. Lucie, the daughter of a Dark father and Light mother, has spent her life torn between the two. (Lucie is one of the few main characters whose name isn't changed from the original, probably because the name "Lucie" means light.) When her father was arrested and tortured, Lucie, with the help of her Aunt Leila, devised a desperate plan to save him.
What do the two have in common? A video by "Nerdwriter" explains the connection. It's an interesting argument and a fairly strong one, as far as it goes; it may give a little too much credit to the power of the audience and not quite enough to authorial skill. But see what you think.
The reviews are in for Scott Carter's The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discordin Washington, D.C.! The Washington Post calls it "a funny and hyper-literate play of ideas . . . featuring a trio of able comic performances." DC Metro Theater Arts says, "The play may be a little short on humanity, but it is theologically, philosophically, and historically rich indeed." Broadway World says the play is reminiscent of George Bernard Shaw's works, and DC Theatre Scene calls director Bill Largess's treatment of the play "witty and imaginative."
As its title suggests, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley's newest book about her great-great-great-grandfather,Charles Dickens and His Circle, focuses less on the man himself than on the people around him. One might call it a biography of relationships, rather than a biography of a person. It's an interesting and helpful approach, broadening the usual picture we get of Dickens by giving a vivid portrait of his world and the people in it instead of simply retelling the major events of his life. Hawksley's preface suggests that writing her biography of Dickens's daughter Katey several years ago helped draw her attention to the different facets of her ancestor's personality and how they were brought out by his relationships: "Researching Dickens as a father -- and he was an indulgent and loving father, compared to most Victorian images of the paterfamilias -- was vastly different from studying Dickens the writer." Understanding this made Hawksley a perfect candidate to contribute a volume on Dickens to the National Portrait Gallery Companions series, all of which take a similar approach to their famous subjects (a complete list is available here).