HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Charles John Huffam Dickens! 200 years and still going strong!
What IS it about Dickens?
The 2012 celebration of his bi-centenary will take in the full range of his cultural influence worldwide. This PopMatters call for features and reviews seeks to reflect the visual and dramatic global cultures of Dickens, many examples of which can be found listed here, from New York to Manila. See, for example, Dickens 2012.04 and the British Council.org.
Along with the international recognition of his significance as a writer taking place throughout the year, there are the responses that readers and viewers have to the novels (first-time readings and re-readings), and the many and various adaptations. Recently the BBC has introduced new versions of Great Expectations and The Mystery of Edwin Drood; the former, starring Gillian Anderson as the youngest ever actor in the role of Miss Havisham.
Topics that might be covered include the following:
- Comparative examinations of different film versions and the novels
- Up-dated and modernised versions of the stories: ‘Great Expectations’ film version with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow (1998), for example
- Different formats for adaptation: stage, opera, ballet, musical, animation (‘A Christmas Carol’ with Jim Carrey)
- The ‘classic’ Oscar-winning film adaptations: David Lean’s ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, ‘Great Expectations’; Carol Reed’s version of the musical ‘Oliver!’
- The actors in the roles: Alistair Sim, Albert Finney, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey as different ‘Scrooges’
- The lesser known stories and writings: American Notes, The Uncommercial Traveller, The Mudfog Papers
- The ghost stories: The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, The Chimes
- The Christmas Stories: ‘A Christmas Tree’, ‘The Schoolboy’s Story’
- Dickens the editor and collaborator, his role in the Victorian commercial literary scene
- The social and cultural significance of Dickens: tourism, souvenirs, Christmas, the Victorian concept of the novelist, the family
- The impact of Dickens on the work of others: modern-day versions and texts inspired by his novels (Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones); fanfiction: sequels, prequels and alternative narratives
- The recent biographies: Michael Slater, Claire Tomalin, Jane Smiley
There are also the detractors of the global celebration and those that do not necessarily take the perhaps standard line of approval of the classic and mainstream adaptations. For example, Howard Jacobsen in this recent Guardian newspaper review, “Charles Dickens has been ruined by the BBC”.
Pitches for PopMatters feature essays are welcome, as well as shorter reviews, considerations and Re:Print blog posts. As this is a year long event, I will welcome submissions at regular intervals: the last Thursday of every month, from February until the end of November. If submissions are topical, so that November 2012 submissions reflect the Christmas stories for example that will be preferred. This rolling deadline will also take into account any events, film and book releases, and performances that writers would like to review.
contact: Gabrielle Malcolm Associate Editor, Books malcolm (at) popmatters.com