Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dickens World

Did you know about Dickens World? If not, allow Sam Anderson's excellent piece in the New York Times to be your introduction. Take, for example, his passage on the Great Expectations boat ride:

"Halfway up a dark tunnel, the chemical smell-pots engulfed us in a powerful cloud of sour mildew. It was genuinely unpleasant, and in the midst of that cloud of stench I felt something suddenly slip inside of me: two centuries of literary touristic tradition, the pressure of Dickens reverence, the absurdity of this commodified experience — all of it broke, like a fever, and what poured out of me was hysterical laughter. I laughed, in a high-pitched cackle that sounded like someone else’s voice, for most of the ride. At some point the boat swiveled and shot backward down a ramp, splashing us and soaking our winter coats, and an automated camera took our picture. It caught us looking like a perfectly Dickensian pair: me in a mania of wild-eyed laughter, my friend resigned and unhappy — comedy and tragedy side by side, “in as regular alternation,” as Dickens put it in “Oliver Twist,” “as the layers of red and white in a side of streaky bacon.” Afterward, in the gift shop, I bought a copy of the picture, as well as a 59-page version of “Great Expectations” published by a company called Snapshot Classics. “In the time it takes to read the original,” promised the book’s cover, which was designed to look soiled and creased, “you can read this Snapshot Classic up to 20 times and know the story and characters off by heart.”"
The World of Charles Dickens, Complete With Pizza Hut , The New York Times.

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