Celebrating Dickens’ bicentennial birthday

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Christine Hardey
Contributing Writer

Sometimes I wonder why Charles Dickens isn’t included in the general Core.  His works were among the most influential for social reform in the mid-1800s, hitting home in Britain and America alike, when they crossed the pond (as it were).

He’s a small part of the English major Core – that is, whatever you read by him for Romantic Tradition is determined by your professor.  Last spring, we read “Hard Times.”  However, “Great Expectations” is on our comprehensive exam.  Go figure.  My only experience with Dickens prior to that was a high-school reading of “Oliver Twist,” which, sadly, has only stuck with me on a superficial level.

What did stick with me was the fact that he didn’t crank out his 20-plus novels in what we would consider the “traditional” way – not in the slightest.  He would write a few chapters at a time, and publish them in those increments in monthly periodicals.  Typically this was done over the course of half a year.  He would oftentimes receive feedback and consider the opinions of others on what should happen next in his work when he saw fit.  His cliffhangers kept readers hooked – this is how he, unlike many of his novelist predecessors, became famous while he was still alive.

Dickens was born in Portsea, England, on Feb. 7, 1812 – so today is the man’s 200th birthday.  Was it really that long ago?  Was it really only that long ago?

If you’re in the celebratory mood, and want to pay homage to one of the greatest novelists who walked this earth, you can do that easily.

On Sunday, Feb. 12, there will be a local birthday celebration for Dickens at Writer’s Garret, 6115 La Vista Drive in Dallas.  It will begin at 1:00 p.m. and will be organized by attorney Darron Hamilton.

This free event is sponsored by the Writer’s Garret Community; donations for the organization are welcome but not required.

This party is one of many celebrations in honor of Charles Dickens year-round, as a part of the international Dickens 2012 celebration, which you can read more about at www.dickens2012.org.  At the Dallas gathering, feel free to bring any favorite passages you would like to share.  Refreshments will be provided.

So, happy 200th birthday to you, Mr. Dickens, and may we continue to celebrate your vast contributions to narrative at large.

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