Friends of the Dickens Forum,
Over the years of Dickens Forum, we have been almost studiously
neglectful of the many reworkings of
Dickens material as they appear in versions modest or grand. In recent
months we have heard much of a
twenty-part television series called "Dickensian" still currently
viewable on BBC 1. A team of writers, headed by
Tony Jordan, has hit upon the idea of creating a new plot in which the
roles are played by famed Dickens characters
who remain as Dickens personalities as we know them but now act in a
linked story and so to speak, bounce off
one another. We have not seen the series ourselves, but the website
following it is readily available.
Now Lucinda Hawksley, Dickens's great-great-great granddaughter,
recognizes the soap-stlyle aspects
of the show but argues that Dickens himself "would have been thrilled
that someone would have cared so
much about his work as to make such a drama so many years on." She notes
too that many at the Dickens House
Museum people are also enjoying the show despite its soap drama style.
But why do some of us shrink from watching such entertainments? The
corpus of writing left to us by
the super-master Dickens most assuredly is so rich and complex and sui
generis that we have quite
enough to do in studying and interpreting and thinking about it that we
fear that we may muddy our
personal readings and understanding. What, then, of seeing the great
film versions, David Lean's OT or GE,
and what they do to Dickens's texts? Surely, willy-nilly, they affect
our readings but as a separate genre which
the verbal texts are continually compared against. Nothing like a
lesser version, cobbled together with
no expectation of mirroring or reproducing the original in another
medium, is aimed for.
The distinction may be argued over. But for us nothing approaches
the value of a reading than another reading.
And, of course, of course the latest reading will itself differ from the
first or the first several readings.