Even Dickens could not stage-manage all the real-life characters around him. A prime example is his feckless Micawber of a father, who ran up even more debts when he had a son to pay them. The newly flush and established Dickens hoped to put his father out of temptation's (and embarrassment's) way by setting his parents up in a little house in the country. As [Dickens scholar Michael] Slater says, "Dickens had, in fact, written the (idyllic) end of their story for his parents, complete with a cast of comic extras (the name of their maidservant, a certain Betty Peek, sounds promising) and it only remained for them to conform to it." Alas, Mr. John Dickens couldn't be so easily contained.
Alexandra Mullen in The New Criterion, June 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Misery loving company and all that...
If you've tried your darndest to produce a good outcome in a relationship or other situation, only to have the whole thing go way south, you might want to have tea with Charles Dickens: