Did you know this about Dickens?

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Excusez-moi! First an apology – OMG, this is my FOURTH post this week!!! Holy S***!  I normally only post twice a week so – to you wonderful subscribers – please don’t hate me.  I promise not to bombard you with posts this often ever again … or  … at least hardly ever. You know, sometimes stuff just happens. I really wanted to support Darlene Jones with her exciting novel launch on Monday, and then there was the Queen’s Jubilee stuff happening on Tuesday (how could I ignore that?)  and August McLaughlin’s fabulous Beauty of A Woman BlogFest could not be missed. I hope you had some time to check in on that! You will want to bookmark that blog and return again and again to read some amazing stories – some funny, some painful, all true. Great writing!

Here, does this help you feel better? If I could I would send every one of you on an all-expense paid trip to Paris for putting up with my extreme blogging this week!

This week also celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of  Charles Dickens (Feb. 7th) and the planned festivities rival those for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! Take a look at the official Dickens 2012 website here. It’s quite remarkable … but very fitting for an author who influenced the entire world.

I really wanted to mention a bit about Dickens this week but couldn’t fit him in until today. So then I wondered how I would tie him into something about France.

Bien sur! Of course! A Tale of Two Cities  is one of my favourite novels. How about you? Set in France and England, I thought I would focus on where Dickens visited in Paris while he was gathering his research, right? After all, isn’t that what we all do as writers? We visit the places about which we are writing, n’est-ce pas? Of course today we do it via the internet more often than not.

I was sure there would at least be plaques around Paris saying that Dickens slept, or ate, or cavorted at such and such a location, since Paris has changed considerably since the Revolution! Well, mes amis, I’m shocked to tell you it just isn’t so! At least not that I could discover and I did a ton of googling! I’m going to do some more to make sure I haven’t missed anything but it appears he spent very little time in France. He did travel there a bit to do some readings but he disliked the Continent intensely and didn’t stay long. Apparently everything he wrote about France and Paris in A Tale of Two Cities, he wrote from England. He relied heavily on the writings of his good friend Scotsman Thomas Carlyle for much of the physical detail of the Revolution. Dickens’ brilliance in this novel came from his understanding of the roots of the Revolution and his incredible insight into human nature. However it was really Carlyle who wrote extensively about the actual Revolution. I found all this quite fascinating! If you want to read more click here for an excellent article about it.

A little back history on Dickens – He was born on February 7, 1812, the son of a clerk at the Navy Pay Office. His father, John Dickens, continually living beyond his means, was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea in 1824. 12-year-old Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory, earning six shillings a week to help support the family. This dark experience cast a shadow over the clever, sensitive boy that became a defining experience in his life, he would later write that he wondered “how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age.” For a long time he could not forgive his mother who had actually tried to keep him working at this child labour even longer.

This childhood poverty and feelings of abandonment, although unknown to his readers until after his death, were a heavy influence on Dickens’ later views on social reform and the world he created through his words. Don’t you think he might have felt better if he had spent some time researching in Paris and enjoyed some French wine and ladies of the evening  or Can-can dancers?

So I’m feeling badly that Charles .. I don’t think he was ever a Chuck or a Chaz or a Charlie, do you? Charles just sounds so right for him … anyway, I’m feeling badly that he never loved Paris or really even kind of liked it. I’m sure if he were to come back today he might feel differently. He might enjoy strolling the lanes of Montmartre with all the artists working their craft for everyone to get suckered into buying enjoy … well, it is pretty touristy I’ll admit but still fun and there are some very talented artists in the mix.

Sorry it’s a bit drizzly there this day but no one ever minds in Montmartre. 

He would have missed the amazing Sacré Coeur and those delightful carousels the French have even in small towns. No matter how Dickens felt about Paris and how little time he spent there, I’m sure he did visit Notre Dame  (below) which was very much a landmark even then. It was begun in the 10th C  for heaven’s sake, although it was badly damaged during the Revolution.

Too bad the Eiffel Tower wasn’t there for him because that would have won him over for certain! Never mind, for someone who didn’t like France he was still a most amazing writer whose legacy will last forever. I’m sure he would forgive me too for using him as an excuse to put a few of my Paris photos in this post.

Speaking of amazing writers … pardon the segue … for the next two months, the fabulous Wana711 group of writers (graduates of one of Kristen Lamb’s fantastic blogging courses – sign up now if you haven’t taken it!! )has organized a blog tour. I’d like to introduce to you this week’s line-up of awesome budding writers and truly amazing published authors.

First up is Natalie Hartford. This ball of energy will keep you in stitches as she talks about life and just plain fun. This week she’s featuring Elena Aitken an author who writes some amazing stories that touch on emotions most would rather not admit. Check out both of these blogs. If you comment on the interview you could win one of Elena’s books. So hurry on over and have a visit.

Next is Angela Orlowski-Peart. Born in Europe and living in the United States gives her blog an international feel. This week she introduced author and friend Traci Bell who writes adult paranormal and fantasy. If you answer this week’s question you could also win a free copy of Traci’s book.

You only have today and tomorrow to get in on the two contests, but I guarantee you’ll enjoy the experience of these wonderful women.

Are you a fan of Charles Dickens? Which book is your favourite? Can you believe he didn’t spend time in Paris researching?  I know,  it’s shocking isn’t it? Ohhh sorry, it’s been a very long week of writing. I think I should go to bed now.

Published by patriciasands

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada when she isn't somewhere else, particularly the south of France. With a happily blended family of seven adult children and, at last count, six grandchildren, life is full and time is short. Beginning with her first Kodak Brownie camera at the age of six, she has told stories all of her life through photography. Much to her surprise a few years ago, she began to write and has now published three novels, including two that are part of a six-book series set in the south of France. Love France? Love her work! Check out her website www.patriciasandsauthor.com She is particularly drawn to the rewarding friendships of women and the challenges many embrace once their families are grown. "It's never too late to begin something new," she enthuses. "As the saying goes, just do it!"

23 thoughts on “Did you know this about Dickens?

  1. “Extreme blogging.” Heh, heh. Blog away, Patricia! I’ll keep reading. 🙂

    Great post. Fab pics as well. I didn’t know all this about him. I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities and the rest of the canon of literature forced on us in school. I might revisit it (and a few others) to read and to enjoy for the work they are versus having to write a paper about it.

    1. Thanks Barb! Well, four posts was a bit over the top for me. I mean, what about time for the WIP, huh? Re Dickens – you are so right. I think we appreciate his work more as adults when we are reading purely for the enjoyment of it.

  2. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t know dickens about Dickens! I want to re-read ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ to see if I can detect any of his animosity toward Paris. Well, animosity might be too strong a word, but you know what I mean. Would the book ‘read’ differently to me now that I know more about Dickens. All of his books, really.

    As for your four posts – I didn’t even notice because I love reading ALL of your posts, so for me, the more the merrier!

    You make me want to break out my French school books and learn the language (again) so when I visit you in the South of France we can be oh-so-sophisticated.

    1. LOL – you are too funny!My biggest problem with Dickens is finding the time to spend on his work. It’s not exactly a quick read! Would we have fun in the south of France … or anywhere else for that matter? We have to work on the WANA711 rendezvous.

  3. Love this, Patricia. I’m always late getting to blog posts, but I didn’t realize you had posted more than usual. i just love everything you write, so the more the better for me.
    I didn’t know specifics about Dickens’ childhood, just that he hadn’t had a happy life. How sad. I loved Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, of course. I also read Great Expectations in high school – I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t my favorite.
    Somehow i missed all the info for the WANA711 bloghop. I asked the question if it was for just the pubbed authors in the group and didn’t get an answer. If it’s for all of us, I’ll have to jump in since it lasts for 2 months.

    1. Marcia – definitely jump in. Angela posted the suggestion back before xmas on the Wana yahoo group e-mails so it’s odd you didn’t get it. Thanks for being such a great supporter!

  4. I love Charles. He is such a fluid storyteller. It is so easy to get wrapped up in his novels. I haven’t read all of his books yet, but, so far, my favorite has been David Copperfield. Only after I read it, did I learn that many of the experiences of young David were actually Dickens’ own. What fascinates me about Dickens is that despite his awful childhood, he remained a very positive person. At least, that’s what I gather from his stories.

    1. I love his work too. “Fluid” is a fine word for his style. I always feel completely drawn into the setting and quickly grow to believe his characters. It’s amazing, isn’t it, that he wasn’t a darker personality after such dreadful early experiences.

  5. My dad adored CD, so I read him at rather too young an age to enjoy his masterful characterisation. You can tell I re-visited him though! I adore Montmartre. So much so, I painted scenes from it as part of my Art & Design degree! Lovely post 🙂

    1. It’s always great to hear about parents introducing their children to fine literature. We need to make certain we continue this with all of our future generations. Very cool to hear about your paintings of Montmartre!

  6. Oui, Oui, Paris! I love all things Paris! Well, France actually. My husband and I have had the priviledge of traveling there several times. But how may I ask did Dickens write about Paris in England? He cheated. But I loved his story which I did not know btw. Interesting post Patricia! 🙂

    1. Thanks Karen. Yuppers, me too – just mention France and my heart starts to flutter. But I guess in the 1700’s it might not have been quite as appealing! Guess I’ll have to cut Dickens some slack. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Twelve years old and working in a boot blacking factory? Now I know where he drew some of his inspiration for his books. I’m thinking of Pip in Great Expectation and Oliver in Oliver Twist. Love the tidbits on Dickens life.

    Lovely photos. Makes me want to plan a trip.

  8. What a delightful post. Oh the Sacre Coeur! The first time I saw it was at night, it was like a white jewel against an inky black sky and I will always remember it. This actually brought back quite a few memories and I also learnt quite a bit too! Thanks Patricia, you are always interesting to read.

  9. *Sigh* Now I miss Paris even more!!! LOL
    I love that shot of the carousel at Scare Coueur, I have a picture of me on the steps above it from a trip there about 10 years ago. It’s obviously still beautiful :).
    Oh how I miss France, but your blog helps 🙂

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