Scarlet Hopewell Pages

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mr. Dickens

I am astonished, ashamed, and (self)admonished when I see the date of my last post.  I can only blame a combination of life, laziness, and a litany of other excuses that mean little to you, the reader, and will no more excuse my lack of contact than change the date.  I am sorry.  I will strive to do better.  That being said, we are here to speak of Dickens:

How is it, calling myself an author and a lover of books, I have just begun my love affair with Mr. Dickens?  Sure, I was asked to read a Tale of Two Cities in high school, and yes, I skimmed through the lofty pages of expert prose in order to draw only what was vital to regurgitate good marks and participate in class discussion.  Back then I was a great appreciator of plot over all things, including language and character, and as a result, I missed out on much that I still find myself discovering late in life (admittedly in some cases, I did not miss much).  Now—I always had a great affinity for Charles Dickens owing to adaptations of A Christmas Carol that still rank as welcomed mandatory holiday viewing, first in my childhood home and now in the home I share with my wife and daughters, but a twist comes to this holiday season and we have David Copperfield to thank.

Needing an new audiobook to fill the doldrums
of driving and long workouts, I downloaded David Copperfield read by Richard Armitage—Thorin Oakenshield to many of you.  I could go on about the superb talent on display by Mr. Armitage's reading (if you're interested Sir Oakenshield, I can provide you with a list of books I would be more than ecstatic to have you read), and I recommend anything, sound unheard, he has ever read, but this is about Mr. Dickens.  And how silly, naive, and late to the party do I sound when I say, what a glorious command of the English language.  We are all amateurs next to Charles Dickens's prose.

Where I have often looked to Hemingway's terse tight sentences to ground myself and have considered him my favorite author sense my freshman year of high school (he was also my Grandfather's favorite and I recognize that it is impossible to separate the work from the personality) Dickens make me want to find every word ever created and either twist it into shape or set it free upon the page—both seem a joyous undertaking.  How strange, such a stark difference between the styles of these two men, that both could be so have drawn me to there work.  Yet, although I have several books to read before an absolute declaration can be made, I may have a new favorite author (that is, until my daughter publishes her first book).  Perhaps, as a younger man, I needed that sharp, blunt instrument of Hemingway's pencil to truly appreciate the quill and ink of Dickens's masterful hand.

This year, although I assure you Dad, if you are reading this, that we will still be watching A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, I am reading the book to my daughters first.  I may not ever read with quite the skill of Mr. Armitage, but I do my best, and they both seemed rather enthralled.  Perhaps they won't be as late to party.


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