The folks at The School of Life have made a charming and deeply insightful short film about how Dickens "set out to educate via entertaining," and how he managed "to make goodness attractive." (I think they're a bit hard on him as a father -- for all his failings, I don't think his children tended to consider him "detached" -- but otherwise I believe their account of his life is accurate.) It can be viewed here at Seeker.com.
On the anniversary of Dickens's death on Thursday, The Atlantic examined two very differing accounts of his character, and suggested that we reconcile his dark and light sides by studying him through the prism of A Tale of Two Cities:
"Yet in fictionalizing his story, Dickens placed himself into his characters—his initials, his demons, his childhood sweetheart in Lucie—just as Carton steps into Darnay’s body. Carton’s famous last words could have been spoken by Dickens himself: 'It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.'"
I wasn't kidding about there being a lot of musicals based on A Tale of Two Cities!The cast album for 1969's Two Cities, which had a brief run in London, will be re-released June 24. It had lyrics and music by the father-and-son team of Jerry and Jeff Wayne, and starred Edward Woodward, Kevin Colson, Elizabeth Power, and Nicolette Roeg. The new release will include demos of songs that were cut from the production. Go here for more information, and go here to pre-order.
Dickens died on this date 146 years ago. As Peter Ackryod writes in Dickens, "Charles Dickens died at the very height of the 'Victorian' age, and yet in his death one of its moving spirits had crept away. Part of its soul had gone."
Novelist Virginia Woolf was notoriously not a big fan of Dickens. Yet poet and critic Andre Gerard argues that Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway was heavily influenced by Great Expectations -- that in fact, the former can be seen as "a strong rewriting" of the latter.