Thursday, January 21, 2010

The New Dickens

dickens dreaming 'Dickens' Dream' by R.W. Buss

There's something I've been noticing lately--Charles Dickens is back, baby.  That guy is all over the place!  From numerous reimaginings of his books (although none with zombies or vampires yet, thank god--A Tale of Two Sea Monsters?), to book bloggers who go gaga over him, it seems like Dickens is definitely experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

This got me to wondering, who is the Dickens of our generation?  Generation--heck, century!  His career was marked with:
  • Long-ass books
  • Lots o' paper (of the currency variety.  Also, books--see above)
  • Celebrity status
  • Many adaptations
  • Public readings
  • Books have broad social implication and appeal
  • Fuses or uses many different genres together (cause of broad appeal?)

As far as I can see, there are three authors who could possibly make a claim at being this century's Dickens:

under the dome cover

Stephen King

Long-ass books?  Check.  Numerous adaptations?  Mais oui.  Celebrity status?  Indeed.  The only thing that might prevent King from being the next Dickens is the fact that, despite the fact that his books are always about different things, they pretty much stay in one genre--horror (they do, right? I have never read one of his books, sooooo--so much for the broad appeal/social implications I guess).

J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling

The author of the global phenomenon that is Harry Potter definitely has the long books, mo' problems to go with her mo' money, celebrity, and adaptations covered.  And despite the fact that her books are all middle-grade or YA, they definitely have wide appeal and social implications (although broad implications might be putting it a bit strongly).  The only thing that gives me pause in dubbing her the new Dickens is that she's only written one series and created one world--a big world full of characters, true, but only one nonetheless.  Dickens created bunches (as evidenced by the drawing above).

drood cover

Dan Simmons

Simmons is definitely not on par with Rowling and King when it comes to celebrity status and bringing in the cheddar, but I had to include him because I think he is the only writer out of the group who is actively gunning for the position of this century's Dickens.  His novel, Drood, was all about Dickens and the awesomesauce on top of om nom taters that was his writing (and it was a long-ass book).  Furthermore, it was a blend of many different genres--horror, mystery, some romance--everything a person could want.  I'm not sure if Simmons is in for the Dickens-izing for the long haul, but he was definitely trying to channel him in Drood.

In the end, though, it doesn't matter who the next Dickens is.  What really matters is that, over 100 years after Dickens' death, we not only care about him; we care about the art form that came into its own while he was alive.  Despite eReaders, TV, intrawebs, wikipedia, and Dragon Age: Origins, people still read!  They still care about books and want to lose themselves in a good story!  Novels aren't dead--and neither, apparently, is Charles Dickens.

Powered by ScribeFire.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...