7 February is the birthday of my pal Boz A.K.A Charles Dickens. Mr. Dickens is one of five writers from whom I take inspiration and I try to emulate.*  He was one of the greatest writers that ever was; do no dare to question this. Mind! 19th century prose is a challenge for the average 21st century reader. Even I have to admit at times Dickens can be quite wordy. Conversations that now take a only few text lines to tell Mr. Dickens draws out of over several pages. Often the exacerbated reader wants to shout out Monty Python-like to “Get on with it!”

In the short story “Joplin and Dickens” a 2nd grade school teacher asks the children in her class to describe the weather. Young Charlie Dickens shoots up his hand and says:

“The weather? The implacable November weather?! As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun!”

“Charlie -” the teacher says ..

“No ma’am! I can not put it into other words!” he replies.

And Dickens couldn’t – or wouldn’t anyway. His readers loved him and his style and so do I. He was the J.K. Rowlings of his time. In this modern age with its impatience to be quick and ‘too the point’ I remain devoted and grateful to C.D. for his munificent and beautiful prose. How disconsolate I would be without him.

Here is a jolly little history lesson to enlighten and entertain you while I go read the death of Daniel Quilp for the umpteenth time.

 

 

* The other four: David Barry, Barbara Holland, Flannery O’Connor, and Alice Thomas Ellis. How’s that for a coterie!