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Thursday
Sep012011

Poe Knows Dickens

2012 marks the Bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth.  There will be celebrations and events all around the world.  And the Philly Poe Guy is turning to Dickens, as well.  I will attempt to read all of Charles Dickens’ works over the next year.  Starting on September 15, I will read all the novels, all the published stories, all the journalism (at least, all that’s been identified as written by Dickens) and a good chunk of the letters (approximately 15,000 letters survive).  I will also read biographies, adaptations, literary criticism and history.  I’ll watch at least one film/TV adaptation for every novel.  I’ll even listen to radio dramatizations of the novels.  For the next 365 days, I will eat, work, sleep and dream Charles Dickens

My set looks like thisI’ll be reading Dickens in more than one format, too.  Most of it will be my 21 volume Oxford Illustrated Dickens set, but I’ll also read one novel on an eBook device (probably Kindle) and most fun of all, I’ll be reading one novel in it’s original serial papers.  The Free Library of Philadelphia is allowing me to read their first serial edition of Little Dorrit, so for a couple weeks, I’ll be visiting their Rare Book room every day to do my reading.  First serial edition of Little Dorrit

And of course, I’ll be writing about this reading experience.  I’ve only read a few of Dickens’ novels (but watched many TV and film adaptations) and have always wanted to just take a summer and read several of his books.  Now along comes the Dickens Bicentenary and I thought, why not just read them all.  And pack it all into one giant year of nothing but Dickens.  

I’m still working on the website (there’s just a teaser page here) and hope to have it up and running on September 15, when I begin my Dickens Odyssey.  I’ll also post updates on the Reading Dickens Facebook (Like me!) and Twitter (Follow me! ) accounts. 

This won’t be so hard, right?  If I read 100-200 pages a day, I should be able to finish the entire canon in no time.  Well, that would be okay if I didn’t still have a life to live (and money to make).  I’m still teaching a college lit course this semester, not to mention I have several Poe and Shakespeare events lined up. (And children to care for and dinner to cook, etc.)  On top of it all, I’ll be writing about my reading experience almost every day for not only my own website, but also for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s site.  

The Free Library of Philadelphia will be mounting two exhibitions of their Charles Dickens collection inWhat I'll look like for the next year. 2012 and all summer long I’ve been working with their Rare Book Department developing a program of events for their celebration of the Dickens Bicentenary.  Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about what we’re cooking up.  

I can’t wait to start reading Dickens. 

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Reader Comments (4)

I like Dickens a lot, but I'd never have the gumption to undertake such a huge project!
September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill Crider
Bill, I'm not sure my family will be too happy about this reading project ("Where's, Dad?"), but I'm a glutton for literary punishment. Especially when reading great books is the punishment (Is that kinky?)
September 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterEd Pettit
An Everest-like task. Good luck with it. Have you any plan for the order you will read things in? For example are you going to read the novels in chronological order?
September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Ell
Jay, I do have a plan. I'll be posting all the info at http://readingcharlesdickens.com/ once I get it up and running. It will basically be the chronological published order. Except for this December, when I'll read all the Christmas books and stories. And I may have to fit Little Dorrit in when I can because I have to read it at the library. I love reading writers in chronological order and seeing their development.
September 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterEd Pettit

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