What the Dickens!

Is there something of a revival of Charles Dickens going on? Couldn't help notice the Italian L'Avvenire run a long article on his A Christmas Carol today, and I'm thoroughly enjoying Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens, which takes up the unfinished final novel of the great writer, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Despite some of Dicken's understandable (in 19th Century England) anti-Catholicism, a religion he described as 'that curse upon the world' at one point, he demonstrates so many otherwise sympathetic sentiments towards Catholic themes - and might I add Salesian themes - that it leaves one wondering.

But since we have mentioned A Christmas Carol, might it not be a worthwhile re-read just at this stage of the year? The novel formed part of a larger collection of stories which Dickens called The Christmas Book, but A Christmas Carol is by far the most famous of these. It was published in 1843, and one can't help note that this is just as Don Bosco is in the early throes of setting up the Oratory at Valdocco, and meeting his Bartholome Garelli's of the time. Dicken's Scrooge, a miserly old misfit, is taken back to his unhappy childhood in the story, a childhood resulting from poverty and abandonment that turns him to a great desire for wealth and success to compensate. The story demonstrates what those two yearnings will do to the human being if there is a lack of values of spiritual growth.

The English language used by Dickens may be getting harder and harder even for today's native English speakers, let alone newcomers to it, but reading Dickens, I would assert, is worth the effort! There is humour and a broad human sympathy and tenderness, maybe leaning a little to over-sentimentality, but still worth it all

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