Inspired by Dickens

When I began this ‘Dickens Week’, I really didn’t know if I would be continuing the theme all the way through the seven days but the abundance of interesting material has been almost overwhelming. I’m grateful for this excuse to delve so deeply into the riches on the Internet that have been inspired by this so-deserving author.

Although he must have had a sense of his unique vision, Charles Dickens could have had no idea of the lasting contribution he made to all forms of art, including the then inconceivable virtual arts. There are many sites which have been quietly devoted for some time, notably David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page, which is “Dedicated to bringing the genius of Dickens to a new generation of readers”. Attached to that page is Dickens 2012, which site…

“…is an international celebration of the life and work of Charles Dickens to mark the bicentenary of his birth, which falls on 7 February 2012. Institutions and organisations from all over the world are partners of Dickens 2012 and work together to deliver a programme of events and activities to commemorate this very special anniversary.”

Countless other new sites, physical and virtual, have been celebrating the bicentenary of his birth; each representing modern-day people who are inspired by Dickens.

There are no shortage of authors who openly acknowledge Dickens as inspiration and muse. A member of the Oakville Public Library has shared a list of eight of these titles, including Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, which was inspired by Dickens’ pet raven, ‘Chip’.

Craig Taylor’s soon-to-be Published Londoners, “an epic portrait of today’s London”, will join the long list.

“I was inspired by [Dickens’] writing and his methodology of writing about the city by listening to the people” (Hindustan Times)

Charles Dickens’ rich descriptions have provided an abundance of inspiration for visual artists from the time of his first publication. Illustrators, painters and sculptors have put their own souls into works while Dickens’ whispered in their ears.

John Everett Millais, “L’Enfant du Regiment” (1854-55). Dickens is credited with creating the Victorian cult of the child through such popular characters as little Nell, the heroine of “The Old Curiosity Shop.” This picture, inspired by an opera, illustrates Dickens’ influence in its sentimental portrayal of an injured child. (Yale Center for British Art)

Dickens’ influence extends to the practical arts as well. Fashion designer Melissa Coker created a line of clothing named for Jenny Wren, a “…dark, slightly tarnished” character from Our Mutual Friend.

From direct interpretations of his works in film and theatre to more oblique connections, Dickens has been acknowledged as a major influence in the world of drama.

“Sergei Eisenstein…argued that Dickens invented, among other things, the parallel montage – where two stories run alongside each other – and the close-up.”

“The idea that Dickens invented cinema is obviously nonsensical but he was a key and important influence in its development,” says Prof Graeme Smith, who wrote Dickens and the Dream of Cinema.” (BBC News Magazine)

And maybe I should be watching Batman after all.

“According to Nolan, A Tale Of Two Cities – the classic novel by Charles Dickens published more than 150 years ago – is the true source of inspiration for Rises. ” (TG Daily)

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Filed under Art & Design, Books, Authors & Illustrators

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