Friday, 28 October 2011

Dickens matters

Well- where did all those weeks go? I can't believe 6 weeks have passed since I last wrote here. A couple of them were spent very happily attending Manchester Literature Festival events, bigger and better than ever this year. One of the great features of this festival for me, is that someone writes up a blog for every event which all give a really good flavour. These are brilliant for confirming or challenging your own experience, or for describing an event you may have missed. Please take a look at some or all of them here.

As for the other weeks, they are lost in routine and activity planning for next year. Which brings me to Dickens. Anyone interested in books will already know that we will all be celebrating the bi-centenary of Dickens' birth on 7th Feb 2012. The BBC is making splendid plans for some new productions , publishers will be re-issuing and promoting his titles, London is holding a Cultural Olympiad Festival. One of the Manchester Literature Festival events I attended was a talk by Clare Tomalin about Dicken's life and I have since been reading her thorough and detailed biography. This in turn has led me back to his fiction, in audio form. Many a librarian has said to me that they think people are put off reading him because of the sheer size of his volumes. But today there are so many ways to "access" Dickens. There are marvellous recorded readings of all his titles, brilliant TV productions on DVD, condensed and illustrated graphic versions for younger readers and of course e-book versions for those readers attracted to new lightweight formats.

I am all in favour of people discovering Dickens in whatever way suits them best. Most of his books are door-stop sized and somewhat intimidating for the casual reader. But the themes and subjects of his books are important and relevant to our current times. Here in the NW I hope that all our libraries will celebrate Dickens both for what he was and for what he wrote about. He visited the region many times and was particularly fond of both Manchester & Liverpool. I will be trying to trace all the other places he visited locally as well.

For a brilliant summary of why he matters you just need to read the final paragraph of Claire Tomalin's biography which starts He left a trail like a meteor, and everyone finds their own version of Charles Dickens. More anon...

1 comment:

  1. A short play of mine makes a reference to Thomas Gradgrind and Dickens in general at Wordpool, Blackpool's festival of words this coming week - as you mention festivals! The play's being given a rehearsed reading on Friday at 3-45 if you're about the central library at the time...

    Lancaster Lit Fest is another good NW literature gathering, just gone for this year.