Introducing this special issue gives us a welcome opportunity to reflect on the many acts of commemoration which have taken place over the course of the past year, and to consider the relevance of ‘celebrating’ the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’s birth in 1812. Although during his lifetime Dickens expressed disdain towards the practice of cultural memorialisation, writing in his last will and testament, “I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works” (qtd. in Slater 2009: 618), bicentennial commemorations have focused as much on his life and personal iconicity as on his literature and journalism. They have also attested to the mutability of Dickens’s twenty-first-century identity; while events such as the international ‘readathon’ of his works that took place on his birthday, encompassing countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, have drawn attention to Dickens’s global significance, other celebrations, such as the official service at Westminster Abbey attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, implicitly co-opted him as a symbol of ‘Britishness’. The film and television retrospectives hosted in 2012 by organisations such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the British Film Institute, London, meanwhile, have signalled that Dickens’s cultural reach now extends far beyond the textual medium in which he originally worked and found fame.
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|