5th January... fed up with it and avoiding, or enjoying the Dickens 2012 so far??
The only reason I ask is that I hear plenty of people having a good old moan about it…and the Jubilee… and the Titanic stuff and the Olympics, whilst I sit here loving all the attention and debate these events generate because it makes a nice change from wall to wall everything else doomy and gloomy. Talking of which very word, I had to smile whilst reading Alexandra Harris’s biography of Virginia Woolf wherein she quotes Vita Sackville West’s assessment of Bloomsbury as Gloomsbury. The days feel grey and gloomy enough without adding to it, so I am lapping up the joy.
We will be having a dovegreyreader Dickens 200 celebration of our own here soon too.
An ongoing occasional series through the year that will be a variation on dovegreyreader asks… called "Dickens and I, My Favourite and Why”. I know it’s just far too poetic isn’t it… came to me as I trudged along the lane the other day in the teeth of a howling gale, and I am scouring the world for willing victims participants. I’ve exhausted my cache of authors and literary contacts, lots of whom have kindly agreed to tell us all, so now I am casting my net around and am sending letters of invitation to the world of celebs, royalty, presidents, archbishops… all suggestions welcome. I have already thought of Prince Charles and Mr Obama, their invitations are in the post.
Meanwhile some great TV programmes about Charles Dickens. Did anyone else see Sue Perkins present that brilliant programme about Mrs Dickens??
Such a telling and revealing visual insight into the woman behind the ‘national treasure’; silenced and marginalised in the most disgraceful way by a man whose behaviour Sue Perkins challenged openly and very honestly. Catherine sent into exile from her home and her children once Charles had found a newer, thinner model. It felt as if the man who could write the stories was writing one for real in his own life and somehow legitimising it in his mind.
And I persevere with my fifth and most realistic summit attempt on Bleak House to date. I was never going to finish it over the Christmas season, it’s not a book I can cope with in great long extended bouts of reading, and once I had realised that I knew I would conquer.
Am I allowed to say I weary of it occasionally??
That is was surely never written to be read in one long gorge??
That it is patently obvious that on occasions Dickens was padding out with words to meet his page count for the serialisation??
So taking all that into account I settle down to about fifty pages at a time and feel enjoyably satisfied with that, I'll probably be there by Easter.
Alongside I have the new edition of the Oxford University Press, Companion to Charles Dickens, billed as the ‘most informative and accessible guide’ available and I wouldn’t argue with that. As well as 600 pages of entries there are maps, glossy pictures, timelines, an index of characters and much more. It has been interesting to read what else was going in Dickens’s life whilst he was writing Bleak House in 1851… publishing Household Words, ‘barnstorming the country’ with his theatrical productions,fundraising, promoting Urania Cottage, his home for fallen women project, public speaking, supporting the Ragged Schools as well as coping with family matters. Catherine was unwell, Dickens’s father John died as did a daughter Dora, and when Catherine produced yet another child Dickens was heard to comment ‘on the whole I could have dispensed with him.’
The DVD of the BBC adaptation of Bleak House (3discs and a snip at £5ish on A****n) has arrived. I had forgotten quite how extraordinary the cast list was, not only Gillian Anderson, Anna Maxwell Martin and Charles Dance, but Pauline Collins, Johnny Vegas (who can forget his spontaneous combustion moment) Carey Mulligan, Alistair McGowan, Liza Tarbuck et al.
So this is all fuelling an unexpected London trip later this month very nicely. I will squeeze in the Dickens 200 exhibition at the Museum of London, and at last a trip to the house and museum in Doughty Street to make up for all those years I lived within spitting distance and never even walked past. Tsk.
And please do come back later for a very nice prize draw...