The Gospel in Dickens
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April 06, 2018


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Thank you to Art and Gina for sharing my site. I created it in the hopes that it would help others get their hands on every last bit of Dickens that is out there. I hope you enjoy and feel free to let me know if there is anything I missed.

I guess I’m an addict as well. I wasn’t always like this. Dickens did not appeal to me at first since he was forced upon me in 10th grade by way of a boring English teacher who had assigned “A Tale of Two Cities” to the class. Reading it only served to coat the gears of my more “pulpian” literary pursuits in layer upon layer of verbal “tar”, gumming up my enjoyment of reading in general and making me quite cynical of Dickens’ excess.

What changed? I don’t know. Much later, out of school, in a job, married, ride the bus, nine to five, comfortable apartment in a converted 1920s Sears house, I borrowed a copy of David Copperfield. I started reading without a sword hanging over my head. His ability to communicate the human heart with humor (sometimes) or deep sadness (other times) brought the characters to life and they STAYED in character throughout the book.

So it was with great expectations that I found myself (along with my wife) in a hotel in London one day, with a rental car and the next day with nothing planned. “Let’s take a ride down to Rochester... we can visit Gad’s Hill!”

“Gosh, that sounds like such fun!” she said, “What’s on Gad’s Hill, and who is Gad?”

My enthusiasm more than made up for her reluctance and we drove down for the day. All along I was imagining a kind of Victorian “theme park” with carriages and punch and mufflers and top hats. When we got there, it was just as I had seen in pictures... but no carriages, punch, mufflers and top hats. There was no one. Anywhere. We were the only car in the car park. I walked up to the the back door and knocked. Waited. Knocked again. Waited again. Nothing. No one. Anywhere. I tried the door. Odd... it was open, so we went inside. “Hello?” Nothing. Not a sound. We walked through the house. Each room was set up like a kindergarten classroom.

I ran my hand down the bannister. Dickens did the same over a hundred years ago. This very bannister. His hands. Left hand coming down, right hand going up. The floors creaked. I’m sure they creaked like this over a hundred years ago too. I breathed in the must and old fabrics and tobacco-scented wood and let it out slowly. “This is it. This is Gad’s Hill, the house of which Dickens’ father said—as a kind of preposterous joke to his son—‘One day, my boy, you might own a house such as this and live like a king!”’ And so he did.”

“That’s nice dear,” she said. “Let’s go get some lunch.” And so we did.

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