Critic Michael Dirda has an excellent article in the Barnes and Noble Review celebrating Dickens's accomplishments as a journalist. I love this:
"One can open the book at random, read a few pieces, enjoy the Cruikshank illustrations, and marvel at a description, a bit of overheard conversation, or even a list. A list? Dickens's operatic imagination could never resist any opportunity for a catalogue aria . . ."
You can sponsor me, or you can choose your own charity from the official list and do your own readathon! (Remember, you don't have to start today; you can start any time during the year.) When you get your page set up, please put the link in the comment section below so we can keep track of everyone's efforts.
And don't forget, for every Dickensblog guest post that you write this year, I'll give $10 to any charity you pick from that list. (I had originally said $5, but I've since changed it to $10.) Ideas for guest posts may also be submitted in the comment section. For those of you with artistic gifts, we'll also do some graphics challenges to raise money. So get those creative juices flowing!
Happy New Year and happy reading!
Oh, and by the way: This is the 1000th post at Dickensblog.
The Dickens Universe has been taking place all week at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I so want to go to one of these someday. An argument over whether Dickens really loved Nancy or hated her? AWESOME! I'd even be willing to dress like Sairey Gamp.
This is really cool: Journalism student Mike Kielty has set up a blog devoted wholly to Sketches by Boz. He visits places mentioned in the essays, photographs them, and writes about how they've changed since Dickens's time. The blog is here, and an article with some background information is here. (Be aware that there's a rather racy ad on the left side of the page, those of you who like to be warned about these things in advance.)
Kielty says he doesn't plan to continue his blog longer than a few months, but here's hoping he enjoys his time in the Dickensblogging community, however long it lasts!
"Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart." ("A Christmas Dinner," Sketches by Boz)
". . . It was the season of hospitality, merriment, and open-heartedness . . ." (The Pickwick Papers, Chapter 28)
We'd like to offer our wishes for a very happy 197th birthday to Mr. Charles Dickens! A day for merriment indeed.
I think this is a good day to recall the very first time I remember hearing Dickens's name. It wasn't the time I read Great Expectations in ninth grade. It was when I was reading L. M. Montgomery's Anne of the Island-- the third book in the Anne of Green Gables series, the one where Anne goes to college -- when I was ten or eleven. Near the beginning of Chapter 20 was this paragraph:
Anne looked up from Pickwick Papers. Now that spring examinations were over she was treating herself to Dickens.
Anne and her roommate Philippa go on to chat a bit about Pickwick and how it's a book that makes you hungry because everyone in it is always feasting. But it was that phrase "treating herself to Dickens" that caught my eye and stuck in my memory. I must have had some vague idea that Dickens was one of those famous classic authors, because I remember how I liked the thought of a classic author that you treated yourself to, one who provided an enjoyable escape from the stresses of school and of life in general. That wasn't the way people usually talked about classic authors. It made this one sound pretty special.
So I like to think I owe L. M. Montgomery a debt of gratitude for predisposing me to think well of the great Victorian author I would meet a few years later. Thanks to her, as well as to Charles Dickens himself for nearly twenty years of reading pleasure. Here's to many more!