"If you're a horse and you're going to be named after a Charles Dickens character, chances are you're going to be named after a notorious villain," speculates Ben Linfoot at SportingLife.com. Linfoot is writing about a horse named Uriah Heep, so I can see why he might think that. But I think Tommy Traddles would make a nice horse's name as well. Or Jenny Wren. Or Newman Noggs . . .
Congratulations to the Dickens Society of Baltimore for becoming an official branch of the Dickens Fellowship! (H/T The Buzfuz) This makes it the branch of the Fellowship closest to me. I may have to look into joining up with them!
Speaking of the Fellowship, I'm getting ready to go to their annual conference, starting next week in Chicago, where I will get to meet up with Dickensblog reader and frequent guest blogger Rachel McMillan! (Charles Dickens: bringing people together since 1836.) As I did the last time I was away, I plan to set up some quotes from various Dickens novels to run on the blog while I'm gone. I already have some requests left over from last time that I can use (Nicholas Nickleby, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, A Christmas Carol, Little Dorrit, and HardTimes)but if you have any more novels that you'd like me to quote from, please let me know in the comments section on this post. Thanks!
And I'm sure Rachel and I will both have lots to share when we get back!
The Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Orlando, Fla., has taken on the mammoth task of staging the 6 1/2-hour version of Nicholas Nickleby (cut down slightly from the 8 1/2-hour version that ran in London and New York). Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal reviews it here.
This one will have its world premiere in Northampton, England, next month. It will star Oliver Dimsdale (whom you may have seen in various period TV dramas, including Downton Abbey) and Abigail McKern (who was in a TV adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby).
"Now, there are (if I can speak in hushed tones for a moment) those who do not like Dickens at all. There are some who look askance at the buffoonery and high spirits and wish for something more refined. 'If those people are ever refined it will be by fire' is Chesterton’s response, but he does acknowledge that Dickens poses some special problems for modern critics. There is something in his writing that is out of temper with our times, a sense that a critical apparatus which can seize upon Thackeray or Eliot with a firm grip will somehow slip and grasp emptiness when applied to Dickens. Chesterton noted this already a century ago, and ascribed it to the powerful simplicity of Dickens’ genius:
Dickens has greatly suffered with the critics precisely through this stunning simplicity in his best work. The critic is called upon to describe his sensations while enjoying Mantalini and Micawber, and he can no more describe them than he can describe a blow in the face. Thus Dickens, in this self-conscious, analytical and descriptive age, loses both ways. He is doubly unfitted for the best modern criticism. His bad work is below that criticism. His good work is above it."