The inspiration for this post came from our early snow a couple of weekends ago (see THIS post for photos), when we went sledding, had hot chocolate, watched a holiday video (or three) and lit a pine-scented candle in our candle holder that looks like the one that dude in the nightcap held in The Night Before Christmas:
Of course, my eyes drifted to our bookshelf, where we have a red-covered copy of Christmas Books by Charles Dickens. That got me thinking about good ol' C.D.
Now, if this were back in the 80s, I would have shuffled over to our set of Encyclopedia Britannicas (my younger readers are thinking, “what?”) and found…well, not too much about one of my favorite authors.
But a quick internet search gave me more information than I could ever hope to read, including the following statements (thanks to Wikipedia):
-Dickens' work has been highly praised for its realism, comedy, mastery of prose, unique personalities and concern for social reform by writers such as Leo Tolstoy, George Gissing and G.K. Chesterton.
-Others, such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, have criticised it for sentimentality and implausibility (which, by the way, are two things that Jess likes).
-Dickens loved the style of the 18th century picturesque or Gothic romance novels, although it had already become a target for parody.
-Dickensian characters—especially their typically whimsical names—are among the most memorable in English literature. Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, The Artful Dodger, Pip, Miss Havisham, David Copperfield, Abel Magwitch, Daniel Quilp, Samuel Pickwick, Wackford Squeers, and Uriah Heep are just a few gems.
More than anything, his last words are what struck me and stuck to my heart.
-Dickens's last words, as reported in his obituary in The Times were alleged to have been:
Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.
Honestly, it was a breath of fresh air. For writers studying craft, there are always new techniques to learn and rules to memorize. Rules of grammar, rules of plot and structure, suggestions, things to employ, things to avoid…it becomes a little overwhelming (though I will say that I'm a big believer in “you’ve got to know the rules before you can properly break them”).
I find value in books on the craft of writing, but I find inspiration in the last words of Charles Dickens.
..the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.
Thank you, Sir, and may you rest in peace :)