Friday High Five: Dickens Special

In this week’s Friday High Five, we celebrate what would have been Dickens' 200th year with a look at five pieces from around the web that look at Dickens' legacy, or use it as a springboard for their own work (or comic creations).

The New Yorker Goes to Dickens Camp

New Yorker feature writer Jill Lepore explores the cult of Dickens by attending an annual, week-long Dickens Camp, in California, where participants sleep in dormitories, eat together in a cafeteria and all commit to reading and discussing one Dickens classic during that time. The pick for her visit? Great Expectations.

When I wrote [the camp organiser] that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it, being reluctant to leave a houseful of pips, she wrote back, ‘What could be more Dickensian than abandoning your children?’ She had me there.

Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham in Mike Newell's forthcoming film of *Great Expectations*.

Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham in Mike Newell's forthcoming film of Great Expectations.

Dickens writes Javascript

Ever wondered how Dickens would adapt to the technological age? Well, wonder no more - at least, not about how he would write Javascript. In this witty piece by a self-confessed literature nerd who is also a whiz at Javascript, Angus Croll wonders how Hemingway, Dickens and others would tackle the programming code.

function mrFibbowicksNumbers(enormity) { var assortment = [0,1,1], tally = 3, artfulRatio = 1.61803;

while(tally++ < enormity) { //here is an exceedingly clever device assortment.push(Math.round(assortment[tally-2] * artfulRatio)); }

//should there be an overabundance of elements, a remedy need be applied return assortment.slice(0, enormity); }

A letter to Dickens on his 200th birthday, from his biographer

Dickens biographer Claire Tomalin writes a letter to Dickens, wondering what he would make of the 21st century. She notes that he would be pleased by birth control (allowing him to stop at three children, as he’d wanted to), air travel (which would allow him to visit Australia, which he’d always wanted to do) and be daunted by the huge increase in prisons and prisoners, and saddened by the continuing gap between rich and poor.

Claire Tomalin's *Charles Dickens: A Life*

Claire Tomalin's Charles Dickens: A Life

Dickens and The Wire

Cult hit television series The Wire has been almost obsessively compared with Dickens - it’s called ‘Dickensian’ almost as often as, say, Great Expectations is. This is not entirely uncalled for, with its chronicling of society’s ills through a cast of absorbing characters and gripping plots, that squarely lays the blame at the feet of our institutions rather than the individuals caught up in them. A very funny online project - now to be a book - has had some fun with the comparison, writing mock-literary-criticism about the ‘forgotten Victorian masterpiece’, The Wire, with illustrations.

Dickens and real life

A researcher has found that many of the characters from Dickens' novels were probably drawn directly from the streets around him – or, at least, their names were. ‘The thug from Oliver Twist, the miser in A Christmas Carol and the ghost of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley, among others, have been linked to people who lived or worked near Dickens’s first London home.’

Dickens at his desk

Dickens at his desk

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