I officially have the best job ever. I work at a library, and get to peek at the new books before they go out on the shelves. Everyone knows what a Dickens fangirl I am, too, so they set aside any related books for me. With the bicentennial, I’ve gotten to read 5 or 6 new books already.
Just got this one today — looks pretty interesting!
Charles Dickens’s Networks: Public Transport and the Novel by Jonathan H. Grossman
The same week in February 1836 that Charles Dickens was hired to write his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, the first railway line in London opened. Charles Dickens’s Networks explores the rise of the global, high-speed passenger transport network in the nineteenth century and the indelible impact it made on Dickens’s work. The advent first of stage coaches, then of railways and transoceanic steam ships made unprecedented round-trip journeys across once seemingly far distances seem ordinary and systematic. Time itself was changed. The Victorians overran the separate, local times kept in each town, establishing instead the synchronized, ‘standard’ time, which now ticks on our clocks. Jonathan Grossman examines the history of public transport’s systematic networking of people and how this revolutionized perceptions of time, space, and community, and how the art form of the novel played a special role in synthesizing and understanding it all. Focusing on a trio of road novels by Charles Dickens, he looks first at a key historical moment in the networked community’s coming together, then at a subsequent recognition of its tragic limits, and, finally, at the construction of a revised view that expressed the precarious, limited omniscient perspective by which passengers came to imagine their journeying in the network.
“The Morgan Library & Museum’s collection of Dickens manuscripts and letters is the largest in the United States and is one of the two greatest collections in the world, along with the holdings of Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Charles Dickens at 200 celebrates the bicentennial of the great writer’s birth in 1812 with manuscripts of his novels and stories, letters, books, photographs, original illustrations, and caricatures. Sweeping in scope, the exhibition captures the art and life of a man whose literary and cultural legacy is unrivaled.”
Congratulations to Bala Cynwyd’s Lisa Litman, who won the Free Library of Philadelphia’s “Dickens Idol” talent contest and the right to portray Charles Dickens in a series of literary events as part of the library’s yearlong celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Victorian novelist’s birth.
The first public library opened in Manchester in 1852, with the aim of “raising educational standards throughout society”. Charles Dickens was at the launch and described libraries as a “source of pleasure and improvements…for the poorest of our people”.
The Empty Chair by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes, R. A. (1844-1927). Watercolor on paper. 1870?. Source: Thomson, p. 27.
This tribute to Charles Dickens appeared in The Graphic in the issue of 9 June 1870. According to Thomson,
The sudden death of the novelist, on June 9th, 1870, changed everything [about Fildes’ plans for illustrating the second half of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. All the same, “at the request of the family, who wished me to fulfil the desire of the great writer, they asked me after the funeral to come and stay with them, and it was then, while in the house of mourning, I conceived the idea of ‘The Empty Chair,’ and at once got my colours from London, and, with their permission, made the water-colour drawing a very faithful record of his library; and stayed with them until they left the house prior to the sale.” [p. 28]
(source: The Victorian Web, this image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.)