Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Taste of Dickens for Christmas and 2012

I'm planning to start my Dickens Bicentennial celebration on Christmas Eve, even though the official onset isn't until New Year's Day. Charles Dickens, born in Landport, Portsmouth, England, on February 7, 2012, long has been a favorite of mine, and, of course, millions of others.

So next weekend I plan to settle down with some of the movies I've been taping from the Turner Classic Movies wondrous "Dickens in December" series, showing each Monday night. Here's my lineup so far for Christmas weekend:
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) with Claude Rains.
  • Oliver Twist (1948) with Alec Guinness.
  • Nicholas Nickleby (1947) with Cedric Hardwicke.
  • A Christmas Carol (1938) with Reginald Owen.
  • A Tale of Two Cities (1958) with Dirk Bogarde.
  • Little Dorrit (1984) with Alec Guinness.
Maybe I'll accompany this film fest with a little Dickensian punch:
  • "Punch, my dear Copperfield, like time and tide, waits for no man ... His recent despondency, not to say despair, was gone in a moment. I never saw a man so thoroughly enjoy himself amid the fragrance of lemon-peel and sugar, the odour of burning spirit, and the steam of boiling water, as Mr Micawber did that afternoon. It was wonderful to see his face shining at us out of a thin cloud of these delicate fumes, as he stirred, and mixed, and tasted, and looked as if he were making, instead of a punch, a fortune for his family down to the latest posterity."--David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
In February I'm going to Philadelphia for the Dickens Fellowship and The Friends of Clark Park celebrations, and will be singing "Happy Birthday" to The Inimitable, as he dubbed himself, at his statue...the only one in the Clark Park.
Then in June I'll be celebrating in London with Road Scholar's "The Best of Times." Kevin Flude, a Dickensian expert, will be leading this tour. Highlights include:
  • A private viewing and reception at The Charles Dickens Museum, Doughty House.
  • A pub crawl to Dickens' favorite haunts: The George Inn and the Prospect of Whitby.
  • An outing to marshy Kent to see Bleak House, Dickens' occasional holiday retreat.
  • A visit to Little Dorrit's church, St. George the Martyr.
  • A coach trip to the historic waterfront city of Portsmouth, to the site of Dickens' birth, where now is located the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum.
I'm not a recent convert to Dickens. I've been a follower since I was 17, when I first read David Copperfield. Back in the early '80s I attended one of the University of California Santa Cruz's "Dickens Universe" celebrations, where we discussed Martin Chuzzlewit, the American novel. In August 2010 at the University of Cambridge International Summer School I took a course on "Criminals and Gentlemen in Dickens' Oliver Twist and Great Expectations." I followed up by seeing a staging of Oliver at one of Dickens' favorite theatres, the Drury Lane.
As 2012 progresses, I'll read some of the lesser-known Dickens' works, already downloaded to my Kindle:
  • The Seven Poor Travellers
  • Somebody's Luggage
  • Going into Society
  • Mugby Junction
  • The Haunted House
  • Doctor Marigold
But for this next week, I'm rereading one of the Christmas stories, The Cricket on the Hearth.
And finally in January I'll at long last undertake the legal novel, Bleak House, that I've put off for so long. It's waiting for me on my Kindle, as well.

I'll also be ordering Charles Dickens: A Life, by Claire Tomalin, who wrote the wonderful book on Dickens' mistress, Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens.

I'm anticipating that 2012 for me indeed will prove to be "the best of times." It's not only Dicken's will be my diamond jubilee!

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