07 February 2012

7 February 1812

They all gave place when the signing was done, and Little Dorrit and her husband walked out of the church alone. They paused for a moment on the steps of the portico, looking at the fresh perspective of the street in the autumn morning sun's bright rays, and then went down.

Went down into a modest life of usefulness and happiness. Went down to give a mother's care, in the fulness of time, to Fanny's neglected children no less than to their own, and to leave that lady going into Society for ever and a day. Went down to give a tender nurse and friend to Tip for some few years, who was never vexed by the great exactions he made of her, in return for the riches he might have given her if he had ever had them, and who loving closed his eyes upon the Marshalsea and all its blighted fruits. They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar.

Charles Dickens, born two hundred years ago today.

19 comments:

Lisa Hirsch said...

Google is with you today. :)

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Google is with me every day, he said ominously.

Lisa Hirsch said...

See today's doodle, if you haven't already.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Yes, I knew that's what you meant. It's very charming. But no Mr Pickwick?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Not being a big fan, I don't even recognize most of the characters who are there. :)

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Most of them seem general types, though that's Scrooge and Tiny Tim in the middle, and that must be the Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist leaning against the lamp-post to the right.

Sibyl said...

I planned to post a selection from Little Dorrit on facebook today, as Little Dorrit is my second favorite Dickens novel (Bleak House, Baby, it's all about Bleak House!). But this was the passage for me: "This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving-HOW NOT TO DO IT.

Through this delicate perception, through the tact with which it invariably seized it, and through the genius with which it always acted on it, the Circumlocution Office had risen to overtop all the public departments; and the public condition had risen to be-what it was."

Not only that, but Dickens appears in a Doctor Who episode, AND played by Simon Callow.

Happy bicentennial to us all!

sfmike said...

I got so lost in the plot of Little Dorrit I never did figure out who was doing what with whom behind whose back while involved in shady financial shenanigans. You must explain it to me someday.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

"He wanted to know, you know!"

My two favorites are Little Dorrit and Our Mutual Friend. But I was looking at my shiny row of the Oxford Illustrated Dickens and thought, I should re-read Bleak House. . . .

Actually, I am now re-reading Barnaby Rudge, because it's the only one of his novels I've only read once. Uh, until now.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

My response above was for Sibyl. This is for SFMike:

I'd probably need to re-read the book to get all the shenanigans straight. There's a very theatrical villain in Little Dorrit -- Rigaud Blandois is one of his pseudonyms -- but he's mostly a sideshow to the evil wrought by the upper class and the government.

So the general point is that though there are evil individuals, it's the whole set-up of society and government that is completely rotten and corrupt -- something I'm sure you understand about "the way we live now," if I may interject some Trollope.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Along those lines: I believe Little Dorrit was Bernard Shaw's favorite of the novels, or close to it. Somewhere he wrote, "Das Kapital is to Little Dorrit as a firecracker is to dynamite."

Sibyl said...

The Shaw quote is cherce! Our Mutual Friend for me comes right after Bleak House and Little Dorrit. I love everything about the Golden Dustman. Bleak House maintains the edge for me not only because it contains almost the sole incidence in literature of spontaneous human combustion (huzzah!), but because of the power of Dickens' indignation over the death of Jo. Have you ever thought about coming down to UCSC for their annual Dickens week?

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Bleak House also has one of the earliest appearances of a detective, plus there's the whole dual-narration thing. OK, I do need to re-read that one.

I had no idea UCSC had an annual Dickens week! When is it? Though for a non-driver that is a difficult destination.

Sibyl said...

It's a week every summer, and this summer they're doing (ta dah!) Bleak House: http://dickens.ucsc.edu/

http://dickens.ucsc.edu/universe/schedule/authorship.html

http://dickens.ucsc.edu/universe/schedule/universe.html

http://dickens.ucsc.edu/universe/schedule/universe.html

Santa Cruz is not WHOLLY impossible to get to....

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Thank you! I will check this out.

No, I'm sure it's not wholly impossible. And I should probably be a little less lazy about figuring out alternate non-BART destinations and methods. At the least I would have time on the train to read long Victorian novels.

Lisa Hirsch said...

There's a train to Santa Cruz? I thought it was bus only.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Oh, I was just assuming there was some sort of train, which is what I mean by "I should probably be a little less lazy about figuring out etc. . . ." Bus only? That sounds desperate.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Google Maps suggestions for public transit, San Leandro > Santa Cruz.

Your best bet is a friend with a car.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

See, that's where I decide just to stay home and denounce car culture.