Category Archives: Dickens (Charles)

Favorite Lit of Our Presidents

What was the favorite literature of the American presidents? I look at works that drew them (up through Franklin Roosevelt–the rest will follow tomorrow) and speculate on why.

Also posted in Addison (Joseph), Bulwer-Lytton (Edward), Byron (Lord Gordon), Cooper (James Fenimore), Defoe (Daniel), Goldsmith (Oliver), Irving (Washington), Pope (Alexander), Robinson (Edward Arlington), Scott (Sir Walter), Shakespeare (William), Shelley (Percy), Swift (Jonathan) | Leave a comment

#TrumpBookReports (in 140 characters)

For laughs, check out #TrumpBookReport on twitter. I’ve gathered some of the best renditions of Trump reviewing the classics.

Also posted in Bemelmans (Ludwig), Bronte (Charlotte), Bronte (Emily), Carroll (Lewis), Cervantes (Miguel de), Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Dr. Seuss, Hawthorne (Nathaniel), Hemingway (Ernest), Homer, Hugo (Victor), Lee (Harper), Lewis (C. S.), Melville (Herman), Milne (A. A.), Rowling (J. K.), Salinger (J. D.), Shakespeare (William), Silverstein (Shel), Steinbeck (John), Stowe (Harriet Beecher), Styron (William), Tolstoy (Leo) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Trump & Bounderby: Cut Taxes or Die

In Monday night’s debate, Donald Trump warned that companies would take their business elsewhere if taxes and regulations on them weren’t lowered. As Dickens noted in “Hard Times,” businesses have been threatening this, like, forever.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Savaging the Poor Left and Right

Supply-side economics has been ravaging the economies of such states as Kansas, Louisiana, and, to a lesser extent, Wisconsin. The GOP governors sound like the poor house’s Board of Directors in “Oliver Twist.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dickens Improved the Lives of the Poor

Charles Dickens had a tangible impact on how the poor were treated. “Oliver Twist,” “Nicholas Nickleby,” and “Christmas Carol” literally changed public policy. Few other authors can boast so much.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Our Christmas Owes Much to Walter Scott

While Charles Dickens can be credited with resurrecting Christmas, Sir Walter Scott paved the way in “Marmion” with his depiction of Christmas and pre-Christmas banquets.

Also posted in Scott (Sir Walter) | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Speaker Paul Ryan in Literature

I’ve written a lot about Paul Ryan and his aspiration to be a John Galt figure. Now that he is Speaker of the House, I review other literary parallels I’ve drawn over the years.

Also posted in Achebe (Chinua), Carroll (Lewis), Conrad (Joseph), Hardy (Thomas), Milton (John), Rand (Ayn) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Child Heroines Who Die for Our Sins

The child heroine who dies, a common trope in the 19th century, continues to fascinate us, appearing in “Bridge to Tarabithia” and “The Fault Is in Our Stars.” One of my students has this as a senior project topic.

Also posted in Alcott (Louisa May), Bronte (Charlotte), Paterson (Katherine), Poe (Edgar Allan), Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Cruz as Beowulf? Try Grendel

Thursday Normally I would be delighted with a New York Times article that matched up presidential candidates with works of literature, such as Ted Cruz with Beowulf, Hillary Clinton with Persuasion, and Bernie Sanders with Around the World in 80 Days. This piece, however, strikes me as so uninformative that it’s all but useless. I’ve tried […]

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Beowulf Poet, Hardy (Thomas), Twain (Mark), Verne (Jules) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dickensian Horror of the Death Penalty

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of problematic drugs for lethal injection. The Charles Dickens of “Oliver Twist” would be appalled.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Detecting the Person behind the Poetry

What we find when we look for the person behind the literary work.

Also posted in Clifton (Lucille), Fielding (Henry), Joyce (James) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Baltimore Blacks Are Down and Out

Black poverty in Baltimore has racial causes that are invisible to most people. Dickens would understand.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

GOP Budget Proposes Gruel Cuts

Mean-spirited legislators who seek to cut food stamps and other programs for the poor bear more than a little resemblance to the workhouse authorities in “Oliver Twist.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Return of Debtor Imprisonment?!

The fleecing by authorities of the Ferguson Black community, including imprisonment for debt, puts one in mind of Charles Dickens’ “Little Dorrit.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dickens Understood Resentment Well

When resentment threatens to hijack our politics, we would do well to turn to Dickens’ “Little Dorrit.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dickens & Our Irresponsible Financiers

“Little Dorrit” is a timely novel about a society plunged into ruin by the shenanigans of financial “wizards.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Count to Five-and-Twenty, Tattycoram

Working with my grandson’s during a meltdown brought to mind the strategy used to calm Tattycoram in “Little Dorrit.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dickens Returned Christmas to Its Roots

Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” returned the Christmas celebration to its medieval folk roots.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Clean Air Is Bad for the Nation?!

Republicans complaining about clean air regulations recall the Coketown mill owners in Dickens’ “Hard Times.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Social Media Invades the Classics

Imagining literary characters using social media opens up new insights into a work.

Also posted in Bronte (Charlotte), Mitchell (Margaret) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Famous Fetish Objects in Lit

Literature is filled with fetish objects that take on outsized significance to various characters.

Also posted in Fielding (Henry), Poe (Edgar Allan), Pope (Alexander), Proust (Marcel), Rushdie (Salman), Shakespeare (William), Sir Gawain Poet, Wycherley (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Books about People Reading Books

Books about books give readers a sense that they are part of a larger community.

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Bronte (Charlotte), Grahame (Kenneth), Milne (A. A.), Nesbitt (E.), Ransome (Arthur), Stevenson (Robert Louis), Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women Making Sense of Their Lives

The female Bildungsroman arose to help women make sense of their lives in the feminist era.

Also posted in Salinger (J. D.) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Oliver Finally Get Health Care?

Oliver Twist experiences the same ups and downs as Obamacare has. But there’s a happy ending.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 Parent-Child Classics (Positive)

A top ten list of classics with positive depictions of parent-child relationships.

Also posted in Eliot (George), Hughes (Langston), Lee (Harper), Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Ideal Mother

When I think of a mother-son relationship that most matches my own, I think of Betsy Trotwood and David Copperfield.

Also posted in Woolf (Virginia) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dickens, We Need You (and Also FDR)

With unemployment insurance set to run out next week, it’s time to invoke Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol.” FDR did so.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Martin = Copperfield, Incognito = Steerforth

The scene in “David Copperfield” where Steerforth bullies a sensitive teacher provides insight into the Miami Dolphins’ Incognito-Martin case.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dickens’ Children Expose Class Unfairness

Charles Dickens’ Sissy Jupe, in her innocence, could teach the GOP something about its insensitivity to the needs of the poor.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What Dickens Would Say to Today’s GOP

Government support for me but not for thee–the Dickens of “Hard Times” would understand today’s GOP.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | 1 Comment

E. W. Jackson, a Modern Day Bounderby

Virginia lieutenant governor candidate E. W. Jackson appears to be attempting a fraud worthy of Dickens’ Josiah Bounderby.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

  • AVAILABLE NOW!

  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete