The Gospel in Dickens
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October 22, 2010


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I'm a college English my opinion Dickens is the most boring author I've ever been introduced to.

Um, thanks for telling us, I guess. :-) Keep an open mind -- one day, you might just come to feel differently! It happens sometimes.

Good thing opinions differ, what?
So, Jacobi plays himself? Interesting. Too bad he's the one Shakespearean/Dickensian actor I've never been able to enjoy much.

Thanks for sharing this. I saw the movie and took mental notes to do the same thing, but your list is far more complete than mine.

I didn't recognize Derek Jacobi's voice in the audiobooks that George listens to. I thought the reader was very dull, and was thinking they should have had Jim Dale or Miriam Margolyes or Gerald Dickens reading. All three are superb Dickens readers. But then the audiobook might have overpowered poor dull George.

I think the question isn't why is George the only one able to answer the tour guide's questions, but why is the tour guide asking such difficult questions that only one man can answer under his breath.

Did you noticed if George had any Dickens audiobooks read by Anton Lesser in his collection? Great Expectations or Hard Times from Naxos AudioBooks?

George went to visit people from Paris and London and with all the Dickens references I thought of A Tale of Two Cities. As Dickens connected the characters from London with those of Paris, George connected with those who knew about death from London and Paris. George appreciated a story and I appreciated the story of Hereafter.

Good job compiling this list. Very interesting. I am a big Charles Dickens fan and enjoyed the movie a lot.

Loved all the Dickens stuff in Hereafter but like you haven't figured out what it had to do with the theme, other than being a plot device.

But made me think that a D. freak like me should have a picture like Matt Damon had. Any ideas for good places/sites to look?

I appreciate the identification of the Dickens passages - why could Matt Damon answer the questions? Because a true Dickens admirer might well know how many children he had, and very probably had seen "Dickens' Dream." Why Dickens? I once read that the "great theme" of Dickens was the lost, abandoned child ..which fits Marcus. To me, the image of Marcus waiting outside in the cold, in the dark, outside the hotel was highly suggestive of Dickens, as was the scene in the subway, with our waif scrambling underneath the crowd to retrieve his brother's hat!

Thanks for the list of Dickens references in Hereafter -- a great service. I watched the movie yesterday, and the Dickens' readings were the big mystery to me -- not the after-death stuff. Like you, I enjoyed the Dickens references, but I am not quite sold on the main story line in the movie. I used to be a great Dickens fan and then over the years have drifted on to Shakespeare -- so I enjoyed Matt Damon's comparison. I plan to go out and pick up some of the Dickens classics that I read when I was younger -- especially Great Expectations.

I'll wait for your full review of the movie. I think George Lonegan is simply telling each person what they want to hear -- Melanie would have wanted her father to apologize, Marcus would have wanted Jason to tell him that he is now on his own. How Lonegan knows what to say is amazing enough, but does not require a contact with the dead.

Have you seen Jacobi in "I Claudius" or "Breaking the Silence"?
I saw the latter on stage . . . a tour de force.
Hope you enjoyed him in Hereafter.

I thought the guide said Edward rather than Edwin Drood. Please tell me if I am wrong. Also the guide saying Christmas Carol was "arguably ONE OF cd'S BEST BOOKS" seemed pretentious and phony. Why would you say a particular book was 'arguably" one of the best bopks. You mights ay something was "arguably" the best book but it seems inauthentic for a guide to say arguably ONE of the best books. It seemed like arguably was thrown in to sound intellectual.

Love the blog! Thought you guys might enjoy this story. I run a small antique business called Everything But The Books in a suburb of Atlanta. In December of 2009 I got a phone call from a guy in San Francisco who was interested in a set of Dickens bookends that I had on my website. We spoke about the different Dickens items I had at the time and then he ended up buying an engraving, the bookends and a parian bust of Dickens. At the end of the call I casually asked him what his interest was in the great author. Were the items for himself or gifts etc? He very casually mentioned that they were for a Clint Eastwood movie. He told me the name of the movie and that a character in it was a big Dickens fan and he was the set dresser! Needless to say I was floored. I am a big fan of Clint and thought it would be very neat if items that I sold would end up onscreen. I finally saw the movie tonight and was thrilled that you can actually see the items I sold to them. Well, most of them. The most obvious, of course, is the engraving on the wall. They actually changed out the frame but I sold them the engraving. The bookends I sold are actually on the headboard of Georges bed but they are in a shadow so you can't really see them. The final item I sold them is a parian bust of Dickens that is briefly glimpsed on the top shelf of the bookcase in his living room. So Brad, now you know where you can go to buy an engraving like the one in the movie:

Robert, how cool for you to have seen the items you sold in a major movie! I'll have to out your website. Thanks for letting us know.

Hi...great blog! Have just watched this film for the first time....I wasn't that interested when it first came out but just saw it repeated on TV here in the UK. With reference to the audiobook reading Matt Damon listens to after the girl leaves his apartment following the reading, you mention David Copperfield chapter 48 about the "old unhappy feeling". It seems it's a (paraphrased) melange of chapter 48 and chapter 58 as it moves on from the old unhappy feeling quote to the "hopeless consciousness of all that I had lost" then with some paraphrasing to 'all that remained - a ruined blank and waste, lying wide around me, unbroken, to the dark horizon".

I think despite the paraphrasing they captured incredibly well the awesome skill of Dickens in generating an atmosphere.

Keep up the good work all.

Hi all,
I just happened to see today's google doodle and I saw that it was Charles dickens birthday, 200th birthday. so I started reading about his life online and found it to be quite interesting, especially the way he created characters influenced by his real life. now, very randomly, I saw this Matt Damon movie on pay per view and started watching it. what a coincidence right? and so I found a number of relations to dickens throughout the whole movie. and I think they are all mentioned above, I guess I would just add that there is some sort of connection to the characters in the movie. like the fresh political reporter, he happened to be a political reporter himself when he was young. and the boy with the touch childhood, having to grow up faster than other children, similar to dickens childhood. and lastly, but not least, the ghost club founded by Charles dickens himself. his was a secret organization where one would look for that connection with the dead, just like the gift/curse Matt Damon had... interesting movie... I think I liked it so much more because it was a coincidence to watch it and the Charles dickens connections.

I am a psychic medium and in order to block the voices I often listen to music. The distraction created by listening to Dickens is what he is after. He mentions having to take pills to stop the voices. He goes to the bathroom to take one but doesn't. Instead he listens to Dickens. It's not the literary he is interested but the distraction.

Charles Dickens is a good author(for exemple:David Copperfield).It's really interesting!:) <3 :D

Some of you have assumed that "George" was "the only one who knew the answers to the questions posed by the Dickens' home tour guide". It could well be he wasn't. The camera and microphone were aimed at George; we heard him, answering "under is breath", but no one else on the tour did; and if any of those others were thinking or whispering the same answers, no one, including us the audience, would have heard them. That group maybe just had no one who felt like yelling out the answers. I didn't find George boring - he was all about his situation: recoiling from being in such incredibly intimate contact with his fellow humans - until he was reduced to live in almost constant hiding from everyone. Okay, so he was boring - his story wasn't.
Still I was moved most deeply - which caught me by surprise, too - by the quote from David Copperfield about the ""hopeless consciousness of all that I had lost" etc. The last two weeks of my life have included some of the most depressed moments of my life, and I'd tried to write them down even. Dickens' passage served my feelings better than anything I could write. It was scary but quite comforting, really.

I'm really glad Dickens was able to offer you some comfort during your dark time, Michael.

He sort of has a gift for that. :-)

Hope you feel better very soon.

I am a Dicken's fan who has read every novel he wrote, some twice. I am presently going through chemotherapy treatments and decided that listening to Dickens stories would be a great comfort. Matt Daman's character listening to Dickens is all I remembered from the film, Hereafter (little else) and my Google search took me here. I am presently listening to the librivox version of Nicholas Nikleby and it is wonderful. I feel sorry for those who discount Dickens as "boring"

Stefanie, thanks for your sharing your story. God bless you as you go through chemo! I'm glad that Nicholas Nickleby is helping you. Here's another recording that might interest you:

And speaking of David Copperfield, did you know that Richard Armitage recently did a new recording?

I think the relation to Dickens is in the storyline and the themes of the movie. The 2 boys trying to keep a family life with their poor (drug addict) mother, the fairy tale like chance meeting of two people who should be together, a general theme that is slightly irrational but only serves to carry the emotional line that is the real topic and that makes the story so touching. All these things could have been ingredients of a Dickens novel, had he lived 150 years later.

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