Tag: charles dickens

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-host Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Mary Connaughton talk with Prof. Michael Slater, Emeritus Professor of Victorian Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, and the world’s foremost expert on Charles Dickens and his works. They discuss some of the main elements of Dickens’ brilliant, prolific, and complicated life, as the 19th century’s most influential, best-selling writer of memorable works, from Oliver Twist to Great Expectations. Professor Slater describes Dickens’ early childhood, having been separated from his family, who were incarcerated in debtors’ prison, and how this heart-wrenching experience inspired his writing as an instrument of social reform. Prof. Slater concludes with a reading from A Christmas Carol, a tale of ghostly salvation which was enormously influential in shaping our popular conceptions of this holiday, and in drawing attention to the need for greater charity.

Stories of the Week: In Kentucky, the state Supreme Court struck down a law that established a tax credit, the Education Opportunity Account Act, that would have helped families cover private school tuition. They’re the backbone of modern classrooms, helping to record school attendance, discipline, assignments, administering exams for hundreds of millions of students – but how much do we know about Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

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When the nights grow long and the days turn gray and lonely, that’s the time for sitting in my best chair before the fire reading Charles Dickens. Those who have been following my book diary may recall my observations on ‘Our Mutual Friend’ last year. One of my commenters, @She (who must be obeyed), recommended […]

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When December comes around and the days turn gray and lonely, my inclinations turn toward reading a Charles Dickens Christmas Story or two. Unlike the Christmas Books (A Christmas Carol, The Cricket on the Hearth, etc.), these stories have nothing to do with Christmas. Rather, they are stories published in the special Christmas numbers of […]

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My relationship with Dickens has been troublesome. I have played both Marley and Scrooge on stage; every December I read a few of the Christmas Stories; I was supposed to read David Copperfield in the sixth grade and didn’t; I did read the whole of David Copperfield aloud to my girlfriend to help her fall […]

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A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books. If you’ve never read it, I highly suggest adding it to your list, and pronto. Some of you may know that my wife is a writer and author of eight books. While serving as my editor pro bono she’s also a writing coach, ministry […]

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QOTD: The tally stick

 

See, our tally stick is whittled nearly end to end;
delicate as scrimshaw, it would not bear you up.
Regrets have polished it, hand over hand.
Yet, let us take it up, and as our fingers
like children leading on a trail cry back
our unforgotten wonders, sign after sign,
we will talk softly as of ordinary matters,
and in one another’s blameless eyes go blind.

from The tally stick by Jarold Ramsey

What Do You Miss About the 1800s?

 

Especially when my mom comes to town, I enjoy a rich diet of period films. In a week in July, my mom and I consumed the BBC miniseries Little Dorrit. Our Mutual Friend was next for me, after which I feasted on Oliver Twist. A long tale from ’90s television called The Aristocrats was sumptuous, visually speaking. These on-screen confections and others, including any Jane Austen fare, get me thinking: despite horrible, bizarre realities of the past, life before the 1900s wasn’t all bad.

Yes, for the longest time it was probably better to stay home and suffer rather than consult a doctor. And suffer you did. Electricity, hot showers, well-insulated homes, widespread literacy, and other comforts of the body and mind were all luxuries of the future. Travel was slow and exhausting. Big cities were centers for disease, misery, and terrible odors. Improvement of your station was elusive. Job hours were long, rich folk snobby.

A Dickens New Year Meditation

 

They were Old Chimes – Trust me. Not speechless though – far from it. They had clear, loud, lusty sounding voices, had these Bells and far and wide they might be heard upon the wind. They would pour their cheerful notes into a listening ear royally, and bent on being heard; on stormy nights, by some poor mother watching a sick child, or some lone wife whose husband was at sea. Falling out into the road to look up at the belfry when the Chimes sounded, Toby stood still, for they were company to him.

Toby found himself face to face with his own child and looking close into her eyes. Bright eyes they were. Eyes that would bear a world of looking in, before their depths were fathomed. Dark eyes, that reflected back the eyes which searched them, not flashingly, but with a clear, calm, honest patient radiance, claiming kindred with the Light which Heaven called into being. Eyes that were beautiful and true, and beaming with Hope. With Hope so young and fresh; with Hope so buoyant, vigorous and bright.

As he was stooping to sit down, the Chimes rang.  “Amen to the Bells, Father? Cried Meg. “They broke in like a grace, my dear. Many’s a kind thing they say to me”, said Toby.

ACF Middlebrow#2 Christmas!

 

James Lileks and I are back with another set of middlebrow ruminations — this time, it’s Christmas movies, from post-war comedies like Christmas in Connecticut and varieties of A Christmas Carol to Arthur Christmas. Take a guess which is the Christmas tradition at the Lileks home.

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Confession time: I was supposed to read this book in high school. Okay. Double confession time: I was supposed to read several books in high school but I refused or never finished them. In some cases, I don’t feel bad. For example, even making a second attempt as an adult, I just never made it […]

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Lest there be any well-intentioned persons who do not perceive the difference…between religion and the cant of religion, piety and the pretence of piety, a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and meanest affairs of life, […]

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In September 1843, Dickens started writing this little book, which seems to be our only modern Christmas myth. He was done in early December &, after deciding to pay for publication himself, he failed to make anything like the profit he expected. But the book has never been out of print & to it we […]

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