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A Kindlier Dozen for All

That's got that schmaltz out of the way … It's 2012! If you're of an excitable bent, then it's the year the world ends according to the Mayan Calendar (or more likely when the Mayan Calendar ends according to the world). If you're literary then it's 200 years of Charles Dickens; the man who brought you Bah! Humbug!, spontaneous human combustion, a series of character archetypes that for good or ill (or as is more usual, both) have endured (and been endured) for a good century and a half, and a new, disturbing and moving understanding of what it might have been like to be poor and deprived at the height of the British Empire's prosperity. Oh, and jolly fat people with odd names, can't forget them.

Published on 23 Feb. 2018

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By Bibliodeviant


“And ye, who have met with Adversity’s blast,
And been bow’d to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass’d
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury -
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.”

Thomas Hood

Or if you prefer (and when don’t we prefer St. Oscar?):

“Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.”

Oscar Wilde

That’s got that schmaltz out of the way … It’s 2012! If you’re of an excitable bent, then it’s the year the world ends according to the Mayan Calendar (or more likely when the Mayan Calendar ends according to the world).

If you’re literary then it’s 200 years of Charles Dickens; the man who brought you Bah! Humbug!, spontaneous human combustion, a series of character archetypes that for good or ill (or as is more usual, both) have endured (and been endured) for a good century and a half, and a new, disturbing and moving understanding of what it might have been like to be poor and deprived at the height of the British Empire’s prosperity. Oh, and jolly fat people with odd names, can’t forget them.

They’ll be a lot of Dickens this year, sublime, ridiculous and all points in between. I’ll hopefully be doing a run down on the joys and attendant traumas of collecting Dickens in parts (the original magazine issues: cool but infuriating); There’ll probably be some Dickensian trivia (unlike most of his reform through storytelling emulators he had actually been penniless and had been forced to work in a blacking factory to help support his family, which must have been really good fun at the age of twelve, and probably didn’t affect his later writing at all), and if we get anything extra special in then there’ll probably be some of that too.

This will also be a year of tremendous significance to anyone who collects the first editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, but more on that later.

Also in 2012: the anniversary of The Titanic Disaster. Not the film, although it’s apparently being re-released in 3D (because even a sinking bandwagon can be jumped on), but the actual sinking on the 15th April 1912 causing dreadful loss of life, sweeping changes to maritime law and a frenzy of fanatical interest ever since.

There will be significant tonnage of Titanic material over the next few weeks, it’s a highly collectable and emotive area; even I (cynicism personified in unprepossessing human form) cannot watch that film (it’s on the shelf next to my Twilight dvds) without

a) wishing that this time the damn thing wouldn’t sink and

b) gritting my teeth at the raw deal the Countess of Rothes got.

That and the fact that “Draw me like one of your French girls.” actually means “do a pencil sketch of a bloody Brassai photograph from the 1930′s because Hollywood believes its consumers have the attention span of a coral polyp.”

The article was posted on Bibliodeviancy, the blog of Adrian Harrington Rare Books. It is presented here by permission of the author.

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