Monday, May 27, 2013

A World Altering Author

I have been very impressed with the works of Charles Dickens since high school.  I have since then finished reading every novel he wrote and in finishing the last one I felt that his spirit was very near me, congratulating me as it were and also had a bit of advice for me to take.  This post, though fictional in many respects is possibly the most brutally honest and personal one I have ever written.

MichelleBreathing heavily and voice trembling.  Well, here we are again on MVSB Radio, and with us is a very special guest.  Blushes, stammers a little, swallows and finds it difficult to meet the gaze of her guest.  Mr...Charles...Dickens.

Dickens: It's a pleasure to be here.

Michelle: Voice still trembling a little. We are very honored to have you. Pauses, then shakes her head as if clearing her mind. I should look at my notes. Looks down and blushes.

Dickens: With a free and easy smile.  Shall I start, then?

Michelle: Laughing a little.  Yes, I think you'd better.

Dickens:  In your earlier communication, you mentioned several aspects of my writing that you had found gripping.

Michelle: Finally regaining her composure.  Indeed.  Your literature has been absolutely spellbinding for millions of people.  Not one of your novels has ever fallen out of print, and you have this kind of overwhelming talent that tugs on people's heartstrings in a miraculous way.  Your work not only as a writer but as an activist made tremendous changes possible in the British government.  Tell us a little about the man behind the literary miracles.

Dickens: Well, as most people know, my father and family were thrown into debtor's prison when I was young.

Michelle: Which you condemn immediately in your first work, The Pickwick Papers, and many other works besides.  Your youthful trials certainly set a foundation for your writing and perspective later in life.

Dickens: At the end of all things we need to be grateful for our trials.  Had I not suffered what I did I would not have been as driven to fight for the changes I did.

Michelle: And I understand you had a remarkable way of envisioning and thus describing people very vividly in your work.

Dickens: Laughing.  Yes.  I looked like a madman.  I made the contorted faces myself, rush to a mirror, and then write down what I see.  I also took long walks, and, as I'm told, would start muttering to myself in different voices.  This helped me focus and bring these characters to life. 

Michelle: It certainly worked.  I'm afraid I have to go very quickly from one topic to the next because there is just so much to say about you and so little time. Your passion for...shall I call it religion?  Is remarkable.

Dickens:  I tried to walk away from organized religion in my writing that I might speak to a wider audience without the barriers between the various sects getting in the way.  But I always sought to emulate the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Michelle: As I can well see.

Dickens: I was very impressed with your religion, by the way.

Michelle: And took rather a good swing at it in your American Notes as well. Smiles.

Dickens: I sport when I like someone.

Michelle:  Mr. Dickens, I have to ask you about a conclusion to which I have come and in which I find myself standing alone among your biographers and most researchers.  They generally come to the conclusion that you abhorred the United States.  I can't believe that, judging from your treatment of it.

Dickens:  You are correct, and I say that point blank in my American Notes.  I expose those practices in my own country that I dislike and did the same with the United States.

Michelle: So you loved the States enough to want to reform it?

Dickens:  Absolutely.

Michelle: I highly appreciated your beautiful argument that the United States was hypocritical in calling itself the home of the free while we continued to own slaves.  Very moving.  Now, Mr. Dickens, as we come to a close here, I have one further question for you.

Dickens:  Smiling benignly. I think I can guess.

Michelle:  So I finished reading all your novels and was left feeling like a literary orphan, like "what now"?  Where in the vast expanse of literature do I belong?

Dickens: Leaning over and putting one arm around Michelle's shoulders while pointing forward with the other hand, as though looking toward the future. Go on to better things.

MichelleLooking alternately forward and then back at Dickens with a smitten look in her eyes.  Then, in affectionate incredulity. Better?  Is that possible?

Dickens: An orphan has the entire world to explore, and nothing to keep her chained to one place.  Go forward and explore greater things than I can give you.

The scene fades out with Michelle and Dickens once again across the table from each other in intense conversation.  Michelle is looking intensely into his eyes and appearing like she may well swoon at any moment. Signing off until next time.

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