Posts tagged "Charles Dickens"
Too Great of Expectations? Being Ordinary in a Culture of Extraordinary

Too Great of Expectations? Being Ordinary in a Culture of Extraordinary

This one comes to us from Emily Newton:

Dickens had it right long before Brené Brown did, but she certainly dusts his ideas off a bit.

As an English teacher attempting to ignite within my students’ brains interest in something other than taking selfies, Yik-Yak, or lulu-lemon yoga pants, I find it important to see the value in a text myself before asking my students to read it. We recently finished reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, a novel which I likely Sparknote-d my way through as a freshman in high school (gasp). I just didn’t like it. So I felt a bit of trepidation as we…

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Chesterton on Dickens: In Praise of Idiots and Imbeciles

Chesterton on Dickens: In Praise of Idiots and Imbeciles

From G.K. Chesterton’s ‘Editor’s Introduction’ to Dombey and Son, the 1907 ‘Everyman’ edition, xv and xvi, speaking about the character of Mr. Toots, who Dickens describes in the list at the beginning of the novel as “MR. P. TOOTS, a wealthy young gentleman, of good heart but inferior abilities”. In other words, Mr. Toots is a kind of omnipresent buffoon in the novel, from whom Chesterton derives an enormous truth:

“Toots may be considered as being in some ways the masterpiece of Dickens. Nowhere else did Dickens express with such astonishing insight and truth his main contention, which is that to…

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A Pop Culture Christmas List – but Seriously

A Pop Culture Christmas List – but Seriously

Kicking off our year-end wrap-ups, here’s one from our esteemed podcaster in the field, Paul Zahl:

Thinking about Dickens’ novella “The Haunted Man” and remembering the impact of that unusual Christmas story in a sermon many Christmas Eves ago in a galaxy far far away, I began to collect in my mind some top-ten Christmas delights, mostly from the weird or supernatural genre. Collecting these has long been a hobby, a backdoor entrance into the land of genuine Christmas repentance by way of the absurd, if you can call it that.

Here’s a little ‘top ten’ for the next week, from the…

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Charles Dickens’ Other Christmas Ghost Story: “The Haunted Man”

Charles Dickens’ Other Christmas Ghost Story: “The Haunted Man”

Some say that Charles Dickens invented Christmas as we know it. At least, that A Christmas Carol rescued the celebration from post-Cromwell piety and prompted the Victorians to introduce many of the traditions that we have come to cherish: the tree, the presents, the holly and the ivy, etc. A little less well known is the fact that A Christmas Carol rescued Dickens’ career as well, proving so popular that he would go on to write four more Christmas novellas, three of which had supernatural elements but only one of which was an out-and-out ghost story a la A Christmas…

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PZ’s Desert Island Discs (But This Time It’s Books!)

PZ’s Desert Island Discs (But This Time It’s Books!)

I’m just now beginning to emerge from two years of living in the desert, the howling waste of inwardness that is caused by the box canyon of life.

I’m coming out of it.

In addition to the New Testament, ten books, in particular, have proven sustaining to me in the wilderness. If you read Mockingbird, many of them will be familiar to you. But I wanted to list them here, in one place, for the readers and supporters of Mockingbird, in hopes of their being useful to you. “For you the living, this Mash was meant, too.”

Each work, and three of them…

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A Christmas (Carol) Reflection

A Christmas (Carol) Reflection

“Ah! You do not know the weight and length of strong chain you bear yourself! It was as full and as long as this seven Christmas eves ago and you have labored on it since. Ah, it is a ponderous chain!” – Jacob Marley

This is how Jacob Marley responds to Ebenezer Scrooge’s curiosity about the nature of the chain his ghost wears in Dickens’ more-than-classic “A Christmas Carol.” Having watched multiple versions of the film every year for my entire childhood, I thought I knew every in and out of the story.

This year, though, I was struck by something different….

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From Charles Dickens’ Dombey And Son

“Harriet complied and read — read the eternal book for all the weary, and the heavy-laden; for all the wretched, fallen, and neglected of this earth — read the blessed history, in which the blind, lame, palsied beggar, the criminal, the woman stained with shame, the shunned of all our dainty clay, has each a portion, that no human pride, indifference, or sophistry through all the ages that this world shall last, can take away, or by the thousandth atom of a grain reduce –” (pg 892, ht PZ)

When Dostoevsky Met Dickens

When Dostoevsky Met Dickens

As an incredibly cool aside to our Dickens-inspired “Whole Duty Of Man” series, there was a great piece in the Washington Post entitled “Christmas Carol: Dickens’s Gift Keeps On Giving”. The whole article is worth your time, but I was especially struck by the final paragraph. [Update 11/8/11: A few extra lines of Dostoevsky's impressions were published in The NY Times' "Being Charles Dickens." I've included them below]:

In his book, [Dickens' biographer Michael] Slater records Fyodor Dostoevsky’s report of meeting [Charles] Dickens. The Russian novelist wrote that Dickens, “told me that all the good simple people in his novels… are…

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Hard Times, Recession Depression, and The Whole Duty of Man, Pt I

Hard Times, Recession Depression, and The Whole Duty of Man, Pt I

“…his only reasonable transaction in that commodity would have been to buy it for as little as he could possibly give, and sell it for as much as he could possibly get; it having been clearly ascertained by philosophers that in this is comprised the whole duty of man — not a part of man’s duty, but the whole.”
- Charles Dickens from Hard Times

As one who is sort of willingly/unwillingly lingering in the business arena, the recession and access to capital has been on my mind recently. The other day, a thought struck me as I wondered how my fellow…

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Setting Vengeance Against the New Testament in Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit

Setting Vengeance Against the New Testament in Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit

In his working notes for Little Dorrit, called Number Plans, Dickens described the following scene under the heading, ‘Set the darkness and vengeance against the New Testament’. In it, the Mrs. Clennam character is attempting to justify a crime she has committed in the service of ‘fighting sin’, to the title character (ht PZ):

“I have done”, said Mrs. Clennam ,”what was given to me to do. I have set myself against evil… I have been an instrument of severity against sin. Have not mere sinners like myself been commissioned to lay it low in all time?”

“In all time?”…

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What Is Your Favorite Version of A Christmas Carol?

What Is Your Favorite Version of A Christmas Carol?

Preparing for tonight’s Mockingbird Hour (last one of the year!) on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, I’ve given a lot of thought to which film adaptation is best. Lord knows there’s no shortage of options. In animation we have Scrooge McDuck, Mr. Magoo, and The Flintstones, among others. Then in live-action, there’s The Muppets, Captain Picard, Bill Murray, George C. Scott, Alastair Sim, and Albert Finney. If I were pressed, I’d probably say my top three are the Disney one, the Muppet one and Scrooged. So… what’s your favorite/least favorite?

P.S. Who would have thought David Johansen of The New York…

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