Happy Epiphany, and I say that not only for those for whom the season has religious significance, but also for those who regularly feel those moments of secular epiphany as do I, and none more so than on my journey with Charles Dickens this year. For all that studying, and I have done my fair share with dear old Chas, this is a lesson in how there is always something new to see, revelations and insights flood in and differing perceptions are emerging. I'm not quite eulogising and I doubt Dickensian idolatory will become my creed, but I am having a great time.
The plan is for the "Dickens and I, My Favourite and Why" feature to run on Fridays through the year of the bicentenary for as long as I can persuade people to write 500 words or less for you all to read and enjoy. My sincere thanks to everyone I have approached so far who has responded so positively... and to those who fessed up very honestly that they hadn't actually read any Dickens, I promise your secret is safe with me...to the grave etc
But I thought it would be a nice flourish to start off with a really, really great prize draw, and my thanks to Oxford University Press for a series of Dickensian related treats that will appear over the next few months.
I mentioned this book yesterday, now permanently by my side, and adding a huge amount to my enjoyment of the reading and the whole Charles Dickens party, an anniversary edition of The Oxford Companion to Charles Dickens edited by Paul Schlicke, and with a forward by Simon Callow.
Entries in the book explore the private man, the public figure- his family, friends, colleagues and convictions.
The age in which he lived and worked - the people, the events, the institutions that informed his writing.
The places that were significant to him - his homes, his London, and the countries he visited.
The ideas and social theories of the time - the attitudes he satirized and the ideologies he advocated.
The works on which his reputation rests - their history, structure, inspiration and significance.
Additonal material includes a chronology of Dickens's life, a list of characters in his works, a list of entries by theme, a family tree as well as maps of locations.
In the words of Robert McCrum ...
'exemplary ...marvellous comprehensiveness in all matters Dickensian.'
and the Times Higher Education Supplement...
' as valuable a tribute to collective memory as one could wish for.'
So if you have read this far and decided you absolutely need this book at your right hand too, FIVE copies of this can go to lucky winners worldwide.
Names in comments as usual and please add a line or two about Dickens and You, your favourite perhaps, or a school day memory of reading Dickens, a TV production that has left a lasting impression... or why you might like to wade in and try some if you haven't already.