Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
Related: 1812 - 1870
Related: 1800s literature - British literature - serial fiction
After 1848 Charles Dickens's work became increasingly less "sentimental" and more concerned with social realism, depicting realistic accounts of everyday people's squalor.
On film adaptation: Sergei Eisenstein noted that the novels of Charles Dickens were filmed more often than any material except the Bible, and he explained this by Dickens's style. According to Eisenstein, a good source novel contains a great deal of action and extensive physical description. Novels that feature internal struggles and intellectual debate are difficult to film, but novels that offer descriptions of scenery and which posit their debates in plotting are easy to film. [May 2006]
BiographyCharles John Huffam Dickens (February 7, 1812 – June 9, 1870), pen-name “Boz”, was an English novelist. During his lifetime, Dickens was viewed as a popular entertainer of fecund imagination, while later critics championed his mastery of prose, his endless invention of memorable characters and his powerful social sensibilities. The popularity of his novels and short stories during his lifetime and to the present is demonstrated by the fact that none has ever gone out of print. Dickens played a major role in popularising the serialized novel. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens [Nov 2005]
Charles Dickens and the grotesqueDickens's. . . early identification of the grotesque with the amusingly bizarre in Nicholas Nickleby is conventionally comic, just as his tendency to equate the grotesque with the strange in The Old Curiosity Shop is conventionally romantic. By the time of Great Expectations, however, he had expanded his notion of the grotesque as a stock property of comic convention, to a "grotesque tragic-comic conception" that, he said, inspired the novel. Significantly, Dickens applies the grotesque not to oddity of character or scene but to a conception of something inherently contradictory in the human situation, which is best brought out by the deliberate mixing of genres and types appropriate to the tragic-comic. --http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/dickens3.html [May 2006]
Charles Dickens and film adaptation
Sergei Eisenstein noted that the novels of Charles Dickens were filmed more often than any material except the Bible, and he explained this by Dickens's style. According to Eisenstein, a good source novel contains a great deal of action and extensive physical description. Novels that feature internal struggles and intellectual debate are difficult to film, but novels that offer descriptions of scenery and which posit their debates in plotting are easy to film. Since Eisenstein's time, film theorists have pointed out that film's tools and fiction's tools are radically different. While film can achieve metaphor, it is difficult and time consuming to do so (with symbolism being more common). Additionally, stream of consciousness and internal monologues can only be filmed by means of intrusive and illusion-breaking techniques (such as voice overs). Therefore, novelists such as Stephen King and Michael Crichton, who concentrate on action and externals, are readier for film than Graham Swift or James Joyce would be. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_adaptation [Sept 2005]
The Violent Effigy: A Study of Dickens' Imagination (1973) - John Carey
The Violent Effigy: A Study of Dickens' Imagination (1973) - John Carey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Bottled babies, wooden legs, walking coffins, corpses, umbrellas, waxworks, locks and living furniture - these are a few of the obsessions the author uncovers while investigating the strange poetry of Dickens' imagination. This book sees Dickens as, essentially, not a moralist or social commentator but as an anarchic comic genius, who was drawn irresistibly to the sinister and grotesque - murderers, frauds and public executions. Separate chapters are devoted to Dickens' interest in violence, sex and children, as well as to his humour and his symbolism. "The Violent Effigy" includes essays on "Bleak House" and "Little Dorrit", which stress Dickens' imaginative generosity and virtuosity. --via Amazon.co.uk
See also: violence - Charles Dickens - John Carey - imagination
Dickens and the Dream of Cinema (2003) - Grahame Smith
Dickens and the Dream of Cinema (2003) - Grahame Smith [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Taking his cue from Walter Benjamin's concept of each epoch dreaming the epoch that is to follow, Grahame Smith argues that Dickens' novels can be regarded as proto-filmic in the detail of their language as well as their larger formal structures. This possibility arises from Dickens' creative engagement with the city as metropolis, as it emerges in the London of the 1830s, plus his immersion in the visual entertainments of his day, such as the panorama, as well as technological advances such as the railway which anticipates cinema in some of its major features. The book offers a new way of reading Dickens, through the perspective of a form which he knew nothing of, while simultaneously suggesting an account of his part in the manifold forces that led to the appearance of film towards the end of the 19th century.
About the Author
Grahame Smith is Professor Emeritus of English Studies at the University of Stirling.
Review by Ken Mogg:Accordingly, taking my lead from Ed Buscombe's trail-blazing article “Dickens and Hitchcock” (17) I offer here, in condensed form, some pointers to my own conviction that it is Alfred Hitchcock (born London, 1899) and not Orson Welles (born Kenosha, Wisconsin, 1915) who has the best claim to be considered the cinema's single most legitimate “heir” of Dickens and the story-telling tradition in which he wrote. --http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/books/04/31/dickens_dream_cinema.html [May 2006]
Ken Mogg, in Melbourne, Australia, writes and lectures on Alfred Hitchcock and related topics. He edits the MacGuffin journal and website.
See also: Charles Dickens - Alfred Hitchcock
Charles Dickens as Hitchcock's main artistic forebear
It's high time that I spelled out here why I consider novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) to have been Hitchcock's main artistic forebear. To that end, it will be helpful if I work through some of the points made about Dickens by Prof. John Carey in his splendid book, 'The Violent Effigy: A Study of Dickens' Imagination' (1973). So here goes. Carey introduces his subject by noting how closely Dickens conforms to Keats's argument about the poetic character: that it is essentially amoral and unprincipled. (Here the poetic character sounds remarkably like Schopenhauer's concept of the cosmic Will, which is indeed an amoral life-death force, essentially 'blind'.) Imagination matters above all else. 'Almost any aberration ... from drunkenness to wife-beating can be found eliciting at various times both Dickens' mournfulness and his amused toleration.' Any topic is grist to the mill of Dickens's imagination. And something very similar may be said about Hitchcock. He did, after all, tell Truffaut that no considerations of morality would have stopped him making Rear Window (1954), which he saw as an exercise in creating 'pure film'. (I believe that ultimately Hitchcock came to see 'pure film' as analogous to Will. It's significant, perhaps, that after expressing to Truffaut the sentiment just quoted, he added: 'Well, isn't the main thing that they [the anxieties expressed in his films] be connected with life?') Prof. Carey continues his argument in an opening chapter on "Dickens and Violence" where he notes how 'a leading characteristic of Dickens' mind [is] that he is able to see almost everything from two opposed points of view'. A prison may appear at different times as a hideous deprivation of freedom and as a cosy retreat from the world. You think of Hamlet's remark in one of his soliloquies, 'There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.' The poet-prince then adds, 'I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.' But the true creative artist isn't stopped by bad dreams! He throws himself into all of his characters and their worlds with a burning enthusiasm, an intense imagination, which is itself akin to 'pure film'! [Editor's note. It will be interesting to compare the above with passages in Grahame Smith's book 'Charles Dickens and the Dream of Cinema' (2003). I also think of Walter Pater's dictum: 'All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.'] --http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/hitch_and_dickens_c.html [May 2006]
See also: Charles Dickens - Alfred Hitchcock
Dickens and the grotesque (1984) - Michael Hollington
Dickens and the grotesque (1984) - Michael Hollington [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
See also: grotesque literature - Charles Dickens
your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products