photo courtesy of Wikipedia

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” – Charles Dickens

On this day, February 7th, two hundred years ago, one of Britain’s great authors was born. But Dickens became more than Britain’s celebrated author – he became an international success and has remained so to this very day. In fact, the recession and period of wealth vs. poverty that he lived in, is much the same today. We wrestle with many similar issues and debate whether or not it is the responsibility of the fortunate to care for the unfortunate. We see Scrooge in the Wall Street heavies who absconded with much of the money still unaccounted for. We see those with illnesses who have trouble getting medical care – even with insurance that they are forced to purchase. We witness great cities in decline and facing bankruptcy.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” – Charles Dickens

Don’t you wish he was still around to lift the robe of the future spirit and identify the solution as he did in A Christmas Carol, or can we simply say that ignorance and want in any nation and any period breed discontent and lawlessness?

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” – Charles Dickens

Of course, Dickens didn’t say anything simply. His paragraph long sentences used to make my vision blur when forced to read works of his in school. Although I loved reading and still do, I often found a dictionary necessary when opening the cover of one of his treasures. The beauty of that, is a vocabulary rich with words like ‘piscatory’.

It was summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” – Charles Dickens

It’s difficult to choose a ‘best’ or ‘favorite’ of the works of Charles Dickens. He is reported to have considered The Pickwick Papers his favorite, although many others credit Great Expectations as the best. How do you choose when the options include not only those and the previously mentioned A Christmas Carol, but David Copperfield, Bleak House, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and A Tale of Two Cities?

Americans probably appreciate him most around Christmas. We love the timeless tale of his fanciful ghosts of the past, present and future, mixed with redemption and served with a lovely plum pudding and a fat goose. We decorate with tiny villages reminiscent of those he describes in A Christmas Carol around our Christmas trees and fireplaces. And we all want such a holiday full of dancing and merriment and foods most of us never eat. I personally have had a plum pudding, but never, ever, have I eaten a goose.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens

While many authors don’t receive international acclaim until they are deceased, Charles Dickens was loved around the world within his lifetime. He was widely read in America, though I believe our copyright laws did not give him any due royalties at that time.

“We forge the chains we wear in life.” – Charles Dickens

He died at the age of 58 on June 9, 1870.