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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Dickens bicentennial

Estella & Pip: Great Expectations

Who else but the BBC would do a program on Charles Dickens to commemorate the bicentennial of English language’s greatest author?

(The bicentennial is on February 7. And this is the omnibus site for the celebrations: Dickens 2012).

This afternoon, the BBC World Service, had a 30-minute discussion on Dickens’ best novel – Great Expectations. (To listen to the program, click here: Dickens on BBC)

The program had a live audience and panelists from Kenya and India, besides England, of course. 

Sambudha Sen, Professor of English, University of Delhi, suggested that Dickens is today more relevant in the developing societies such as Delhi and Kolkata than to London, or any other city in the developed world. 

He argued that the societies in the developing world are going through a churn that reflects Dickensian drama in the everyday existence of its people. 

On the other hand, the societies in the developed world have homogenised almost completely and have little left of their 19th century milieu, especially after nearly a century of the welfare state.

That is true at so many different levels. For instance, the ongoing Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai – which is a celebration Mumbai’s unique cosmopolitan identity – is holding a Tributeto Dickens film festival that will show some of the classic Dickens novels turned into films by master filmmakers.

The festival will culminate in conversation on A Tale of Two Cities between British author Craig Taylor and Indian academic Dr. Mitra Mukherjee-Parikh.

Unfortunately, there are many events being planned to commemorate the bicentennial in Toronto, at least nothing on the net. A Charles Dickens Tribute Concert by the Counterpoint Community Orchestra is scheduled on Saturday March 3, 2012. Here is the link to the concert. Counterpoint.

Dickens is my favourite author and Great Expectation my favourite Dickens novel. I’ve written on several occasions on this blog about Dickens. (Read previous entries here: Dickens on GAB). I’ll be a good time to thank a dear friend – Pranav Joshi – for gifting me the novel at an age when I could read it as any other book, and not as a classic of English literature, which it is.  

About the image: Pip and Estella Walking in the Garden by Charles Green c. 1877 7.6 x 4.6 inches Dickens's Great Expectations, Gadshill Edition. These plates have neither captions nor pages, being inserted into the text. The Annotated Dickens provides the following caption, which is not in the original Gadshill Edition: "Estella walking in the garden at Satis House: her other hand lightly touched my shoulder as we walked" (Ch. 29). Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham

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