When people talk about early detective novels, and Dickens's influence on the genre, they usually tend to bring up Inspector Bucket of Bleak House. The Inspector has been called "the first important detective in English literature," and there's little doubt he merits the description.
But there's at least one other detective figure in Dickens's work who seems to be almost completely overlooked: Sissy Jupe in Hard Times.
I realize, of course, that Sissy is not a professional detective. But the detective canon is full of amateur sleuths, and I would argue that the humble "stroller's child" deserves to be listed among them.
(I'm going to put some major spoilers below the cut, so proceed at your own risk!)
There's two terms I'll bet you never thought you'd see together! But "What the Dickens?" in Orlando, Florida, is offering $5000 for the best public performance of a song from a Dickens-based musical. A YouTube video of the performance must be sent in by December 5. More details are available here and here.
I can't wait to see what people come up with for this!
This is just to report that I'm back from the Dickens Fellowship Conference, where we had a grand and glorious five days of celebrating Mr. Dickens! Report and pictures (with help from Rachel McMillan) coming soon!
Selena requested a quote from The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
“A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with a lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods, and fields -- or, rather, from the one great garden of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time -- penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthy odour, and preach the Resurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow warm; and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble corners of the building, fluttering there like wings.”
“‘Then Mr M’Choakumchild said he would try me once more. And he said, Here are the stutterings -- ’
“‘Statistics,’ said Louisa.
“‘Yes, Miss Louisa -- they always remind me of stutterings, and that’s another of my mistakes -- of accidents upon the sea. And I find (Mr M’Choakumchild said) that in a given time a hundred thousand persons went to sea on long voyages, and only five hundred of them were drowned or burnt to death. What is the percentage? And I said, Miss;’ here Sissy fairly sobbed as confessing with extreme contrition to her greatest error; ‘I said it was nothing.’
“‘Nothing, Miss -- to the relations and friends of the people who were killed. I shall never learn,’ said Sissy.”
Msantimacassar on LiveJournal requested a quote from Little Dorrit.
"They were very near the end of their walk, and they now came out of the gateway to finish it. Nothing would serve Maggy but that they must stop at a grocer's window, short of their destination, for her to show her learning. She could read after a sort; and picked out the fat figures in the tickets of prices, for the most part correctly. She also stumbled, with a large balance of success against her failures, through various philanthropic recommendations to Try our Mixture, Try our Family Black, Try our Orange-flavoured Pekoe, challenging competition at the head of Flowery Teas; and various cautions to the public against spurious establishments and adulterated articles. When he saw how pleasure brought a rosy tint into Little Dorrit's face when Maggy made a hit, he felt that he could have stood there making a library of the grocer's window until the rain and wind were tired."