Much like many modern day readers, my first encounter with Charles Dickens was in the 6th grade. A Tale of Two Cities was required reading and I must admit that 12-year-old me did not enjoy it. Not at the time, at least. And who could blame me? Much like other young boys my age, I had a bias against the aged ideas of Victorian times. I just felt like it was all a little bit out-of-touch.
As I grew in age and opened up more of Charles Dickens’ books — Hard Times, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend —I slowly uncovered how wrong little 12-year-old me was. Little did I know that Dickens’ was actually a herald of the future, exhibiting the values of the modern, 21st century male.
Here’s 3 ways how:
“No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.” — Our Mutual Friend
As the socially conscious man, Dickens’ championed the boom of Victorian England’s masses coming to education and literacy. This is a fight we continue to this day worldwide, with projects like our very own Fully Booked Foundation. Another great movement is laptop.org, which develops and provides low cost educational computers to underprivileged schools, including some in the Philippines.
“I almost feel as if you ought to be grateful to ME, for giving you the opportunity of enjoying the luxury of generosity.” — Bleak House
As the hipster, he made fun of the upper classes’s obsession with belongings. For the first time, being “all that” was passé. Bleak House is very much an expose of rich oppression keeping the poor poor.
“I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free.” — A Tale of Two Cities
As the tortured artist, stuck in an unhappy marriage (separation or divorce was not permissible), he opened up his pain to his readership on a monthly basis. Yes, Dickens’ invented the rant blog. You heard it here first.
If you haven’t picked up a Charles Dickens book since high school, celebrate his 201st birthday by getting yourself one this weekend. They’re relatively inexpensive and certified classics. It’s difficult to go wrong. In preparing to write this blog, I re-read both Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities. My only regret is that I did not enjoy them this much the first time around.
Perhaps try The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which essentially defined the mystery novel. Or maybe Dickens’ own personal favorite, David Copperfield, which gives some of the best insight into the author’s life experience. Great Expectations is as close to a perfect novel as any I have ever read, with the fluidity of Dickens’ prose still unparalleled, even by the greatest writers of our current age.
Rediscover Dickens this weekend. “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”
Also, join yesterday’s Charles Dickens Tote Giveaway here: http://www.fullybookedonline.com/blog/view/2355