The Gospel in Dickens
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May 17, 2010


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Go Gina!...and of course you are absolutely right!

Usually "little known" means "I just found something I can exploit." It's kinda funny, this "muckracking" to expose the bad side of Dickens is so "little known." I have the opposite problem with E. A. Poe: the "little known" facts that he was a good husband, not addicted to drugs, was not insane or depressed, and drank very little, does not seem to make for good storytelling.

Perhaps more comparable is the recent trend in my area of "exposing" the "little known" or "secret" history of slavery in the north. A historian friend of mine said it's only "little known" if you've never paid attention. Phillis Wheatley, anyone?

Poor Poe. It's really not fair. If they ever make a film about all his good qualities, I'll go see it!

David, thanks -- I appreciate your point of view as a Dickens expert. It's not that I'm trying to close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears and go "I can't hear you, I'm not even listening!" about this. I used to do that (figuratively) as a kid when I heard something bad about someone I liked, but I've outgrown it. And there's no doubt that, whatever the exact facts of the case, Dickens acted badly -- and if I had a time machine that would let me go back and give him a good shaking for it, I'd probably do it!

I just can't stand this "National Enquirer" treatment of it, and how it will be made to reflect on his work. I know at least one woman who stopped watching "Little Dorrit" because of the awful things Laura Linney said about Dickens in her intro. Imagine what a film like this could do.

Dickens' attitudes--even that word seems too rational--regarding women are so deep and convoluted, so intertwined with his vocation as a writer, that I don't think anyone will ever understand his relationship with "the invisible woman."

Did you like Girl in a Blue Dress? I started it but ultimately put it down because I didn't want my understanding of Dickens jaded by a fictionalized biography. Should I pick it up again?

I ended up liking it quite a lot -- much more than I expected to, in fact. Here's my review:

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