February 7 marks 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens'
birthday and all stops are being pulled out in Britain to celebrate the occasion, with a graveside ceremony attended by descendants of the Victorian novelist as well as luminaries from literature, theater, and members of the Royal Family. Even Google got into the act with a special Dickens version of their logo. It's not surprising, given the vast extent of Dickens' contributions to the world of literature, expanding our understanding of the Victorian world he inhabited and leading us with some terrific Dickens quotes
that have stood the test of time.
Many Dickens quotes
have found their way into our language. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,"
is a familiar quote, penned by Dickens in the opening of A Tale of Two Cities
. The full 120-word Dickens quote, a short version which is here on great-quotes.com
, reflects the complicated social and political events taking place in Europe in his day. Dickens was no stranger to social injustice, and many of his novels focused on the plight of the poor, prompting this reflection: " day wasted on others is not wasted on one's self."
Many popular Dickens quotes
come from his most recognized work, "A Christmas Carol,"
with its miserly lead, Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by three ghosts representing the past, present and future. Even nonreaders have probably emphatically interjected "God bless us, every one!"
and "Bah, Humbug!"
from time to time. Many other novels, including David Copperfield, Great Expectations
, and Oliver Twist
, have become major motion pictures and stage plays. Watch for the upcoming movie release of Great Expectations
, starring Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter by the way.
Dickens wasn't shy about voicing opinions about his own life and times whether in books or in interviews. One Dickens quote
addressed the plethora of mediocre authors in his time, "There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts,"
which is certainly as true today as it was in Victorian times.
A more well-read fellow writer friend of mine surmises that Dickens would have loved blogging and social network sites because he hated his publisher so much. My meager indoctrination to Dickens was a 1967 Monty Python sketch written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman, where a snooty bookstore owner becomes exasperated by an ignorant shopper who systematically bastardizes the names of several famous Dickens' books (some of which cannot be mentioned here). The skit includes this interaction:
Chapman: I wonder if you might have a copy of 'Rarnaby Budge'?
Cleese: (excitedly) You mean 'Barnaby Rudge'!
Chapman: No, 'Rarnaby Budge' by Charles Dikkens. That's Dikkens with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author.
Cleese: (exasperated) No, well we don't have 'Rarnaby Budge' by Charles Dikkens with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author, and perhaps to save time I should add that we don't have 'Karnaby Fudge' by Darles Chickens, or 'Farmer of Sludge' by Marles Pickens, or even 'Stickwick Stapers' by Farles Wickens with four M's and a silent Q!!!!! Why don't you try W. H. Smith's?
Chapman: Ah did, They sent me here.
Curious about the distorted book titles, I was intrigued to find out more about Dickens, and now, like millions, I'm in awe of his work. Well, we all have our paths to enlightenment.
How would Dickens have felt about this skit? I hope he would have had a hearty laugh and appreciated the humorous tribute, for as he said in one of his own Dickens quotes
: "It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour."
Hats off to you, Charles Dickens
. How many of us will have our contributions to society celebrated 200 years after our demise? The best we can do is agree that, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
And yes, that too was a Dickens quote