Happy 200th Birthday Dahls Chickens

Dahls Chickens is, of course, the way that the lovely Big Friendly Giant refers to Charles Dickens which still makes me smile.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Charles Dickens and what better way to celebrate than to READ him!  If you are a beginner, may I please recommend Great Expectations, which has all the language, character and mood of a Dickens book to set you up to becoming a fan.

There is a very swanky congregation and wreath-laying ceremony being held today at Westminster Abbey, where he is buried in Poets’ Corner.  Dickens was a magnificent writer and kick started socially responsible attitudes that were a little missing from the Victorian consciousness.  Oscar Wilde famously snootily looked down upon Dickens saying that it wasn’t genuine to be part of the bourgeois elite and comment on the poor (Wilde notably omits any mention of the poor in his works). I think this is unfair as Dickens himself was sent to a poor house as a child when his father was imprisoned for bankruptcy.  He made it his lifelong mission to get rid of poor houses and was very successful in doing so.

There are claims that Dickens was a racist, particularly anit-semitic and the character Fagin in Oliver Twist is often cited as proof of this.  Fagin is portrayed as inherently evil and called “the Jew” in the book, whereas other characters are not referred to by their religion or ethnicity.  I’m not sure – the jury is out on this one.  Maybe he was a racist, I would like to think not.  If you nit pick like this at all of our literary greats (Shakespeare included) then they all have racist comments and characterisations in them, but they are of their time and do not necessarily show the author to be racist.  Think of words that are no longer acceptable in today’s society even compared to the 1970s.

If you are not a great reader then please watch Armando’s Tale of Charles Dickens which is still available on BBC i player – it is only an hour long and fantastic!


5 Comments to “Happy 200th Birthday Dahls Chickens”

  1. I’d forgotten about the BFG’s gloss on Dickens- thanks for reminding me!

  2. I still haven’t read Great Expectations. Just bought it. Thanks for the tip on Armando’s Tale. Isn’t it amazing that this work is so part of society 200 years on….

  3. I remember a few years back trying to read some Charles Dickens, I think it was A Tale of Two Cities. I felt so depressed after just a few chapters that I stopped reading it. Everyone was dead, dying, ill, poor or completely destitute.

    Maybe I’ll give him another go… I can’t get out of my head though that he most of his novels originated as serials in newspapers where he was effectively paid by the word. This is supposed to be the reason why some of his stories seem to drag on a bit if you try to read it as a novel, I think you’re supposed to put the book down and then come back to it a week later to appreciate it…

  4. Yeah he is a little hard to read – the language is a little dated and not as fun as say, Oscar Wilde.

    But it is worth the read, however, and a lot of his books are a bit bollywood. Where else do lame children walk again and orphans inherit millions?

    I wouldn’t force yourself to read him though – watching all the good productions are good – the recent christmas great expectations was supposed to be awesome!

  5. The British Council in Delhi are showing some Dickens classics, catch them if you can!

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