Gordon explores the psychology of characters in three Dickens novels -“Oliver Twist,” “Dombey and Son” and “Bleak House” - as well as that of the legendary author himself, and frames his analysis through the lens of pre-Freudian psychology.
An interview with the man who adapted Nicholas Nickleby as an epic, eight-hour stage play
It’s a little bit like the theory about translations, that translations should be a pane of glass in which we try to get as close as possible to how it was written. And I was arguing it shouldn’t be like that, that the adaptation should be as visible as the original work. The adaptation should be present, it should be commenting on the original text. It should be clear that we are watching a group of actors in the late 20th century who have chosen to tell the story of this novel and to a certain extent are asking questions of it.
While writing Martin Chuzzlewit - his sixth novel - Dickens declared it ‘immeasurably the best of my stories.’ He was already famous as the author of The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.
Set partly in America, which Dickens had visited in 1842, the novel includes a searing satire on the United States. Martin Chuzzlewit is the story of two Chuzzlewits, Martin and Jonas, who have inherited the characteristic Chuzzlewit selfishness. It contrasts their diverse fates of moral redemption and worldly success for one, with increasingly desperate crime for the other. This powerful black comedy involves hypocrisy, greed and blackmail, as well as the most famous of Dickens’s grotesques, Mrs Gamp.
That Mr. Lithgow, now 65, would become an actor seems from his book like a foregone conclusion. He had what amounts to a 19th-century theatrical childhood, like that of Ellen Terry or of one of the Crummles family in “Nicholas Nickleby.
Via Flickr: ‘I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or “thereby” as they say in Scotland. I was a posthumous child. My father’s eyes had closed upon the light of this world six months when mine opened on it. There is something strange to me even now, in the reflection that he never saw me; and something stranger yet is the shadowy remembrance that I have of my first childish associations with his white grave-stone in the churchyard, and the indefinable compassion I used to feel for it lying out alone there in the dark night, when our little parlour was warm and bright with fire and candle, and the doors of our house - were almost cruelly, it seemed to me sometimes - bolted and locked against it.’