Charles Dickens is two hundred years old. Never mind that he died on 9th June 1870, Charles Dickens is two hundred years own because Charles Dickens has lived on through his words. It didn't end on that day in 1870, we're still reading his works, still reading about him in biographies, blog posts, Tweets, and newspaper articles, and we're still watching television and film adaptations, as well as the documentaries on various channels all over the world.
He lives on. I used to hate him. I found him long-winded, unbearably so, and having read Hard Times for my A Levels, I never managed much more until late last year when I read (and loved) Oliver Twist. I never would have imagined I would go on to at least attempt to work through his major novels, let alone find any pleasure anywhere in it. But I did. I quickly came to loving his novels, and still (even though I disliked Pickwick Papers) am thoroughly enjoying reading him. And he is more loved in society than any other author I know. He's an institution, and rightly so.
Tonight, I am reading The Old Curiosity Shop (I would have liked to have made a day of it, but things didn't run accordingly). So far I'm loving it, not just the story but feeling the connection - the book, all of his books, connect many millions. I like that: I like knowing that since 1841 when the book was published, so many have read the same words as I have read. One hundred and seventy years ago, there was no doubt a young woman who sat in her bed when she ought to have gone to sleep and read and loved it. It's the same scenario for all of his works, and we're connected to so many through two centuries by reading them. So many people have read and will read him, and I have that small link with them all.
Is anyone else having a Charles Dickens night? If yes, leave me a comment and tell me what you're doing or have done to mark the occasion :)