Charles Dickens would have been 200 today.
My first memory of Dickens’ work was reading Great Expectations in junior high English class. I hated it. (Pip was a loser, Estella was a mean girl, and Miss Haversham needed to suck it up and get on with her life. I was full of grace and forgiveness at twelve.)
It’s a wonder that I ever gave him another chance, but I’ll always remember reading A Christmas Carol for the first time. In the first page or so the author wanders off into a tangent about “why do we say ‘dead as a doornail’? Wouldn’t a coffin nail be more dead than a doornail?” and I realized I had discovered a kindred spirit.
Then there was the time I waded through A Tale of Two Cities only to find I could hardly read the last few pages through my tears. (When they’re going up the steps to the guillotine and Sydney Carton is so sweet to the doomed, innocent, little dressmaker in the face of his own imminent death. . . oh my.)
Mind you, such noble characters are kind of counteracted by that useless little twerp David Copperfield married (clearly I’m still working on that grace and forgiveness thing). But never mind. The point is that such characters (even the annoying ones)—and the talented author who created them—deserve to be celebrated.
So happy birthday, Mr. Dickens! You’ve provided many happy (and some irritated) hours of reading pleasure to millions. Thanks for sharing your work with us.
Do you have a favorite Dickens story? What is it and why do you like it?