On this day, February 7th 1812, a great man called Charles Dickens was born. His works, such as the Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836-1837), Oliver Twist (1837-1839), David Copperfield (1849-1850), and Great Expectations (1860-1861), are among of the most remarkable in English literature.
I have just returned from the small celebration of his bicentennial, organised by some of the British professors at my university. All smartly dressed, they took turn narrating Dickens’s life and acting out scenes from his novels. They had their audience laughing in fits with their quite accomplished renditions of characters such as Sam Weller and Mr Bardell in the Pickwick Papers. We saw David Copperfield in love with the eldest Miss Larkins, Oliver Twist asking for more, and Mrs Nickelby recalling a roast pig – and during the latter my stomach was cramping from laughter.
I feel this was an excellent way to remember Mr Dickens, who, after all, himself entertained his audiences on his tours by acting out his books – all by himself! Of this we will have a taste, when one of the professors performing today will try to re-enact bits Dickens’s American tour. I will be attending that event as well, and this time I might wear a top hat.
Happy birthday, Mr Dickens! Thank you for the good work – I hope you could have been buried where you had wanted to, but there are certain things expected for a man of such national importance.