February 07, 2012

In other book news

I would be negligent if I allowed the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens to pass without comment: he was born 200 years today, on February 7, 1802.

Dickens was arguably the greatest author of the Victorian period, which also makes him the greatest author I have never read enough of, and want to: I've read A Christmas Carol (who hasn't?), Oliver Twist (required reading), and about the first five chapters of Bleak House—which, coincidentally, I've got on my nightstand for the near future, as I've been meaning to read it for ages.

On the other hand, I've never read either of the typical "required reading" of his works: A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. So much great literature, so little time.

Beyond that, I'm embarrassed to say I know exactly two other things about Charles Dickens: his writing was about as socially conscious as English literature got during the mid-1800s, and also that he was a passionate public reader. I've heard tell, though the story might be apocryphal, that his dramatic reading style precipitated the strokes that eventually did him in. Certainly toward the end of his life, when he knew his time was coming, he embarked on a "farewell tour" of sorts. May the grim reaper find us all doing what we love when our time comes!