LONDON – A London exhibition “Global Dickens: For Every Nation Upon Earth” presents the English writer as a man of Europe and the world at a time the United Kingdom faces political turbulence and re-evaluates its place in the world, the Dickens Museum director said Monday.
Misconceptions often place Charles Dickens as a quintessentially British writer, but this could not be further from the truth, Cindy Sughrue, director of the London Dickens Museum told EFE on the eve of the launch of its latest show.
“We struck on the theme of Global Dickens for 2019 because we were very conscious of the fact that Dickens was an international superstar but he took personal interest in traveling, in exploring other places, and we felt that this year while Britain is re-evaluating its relationship with Europe and its place in the world that we wanted to celebrate and remind people that Dickens in his day took a worldwide interest,” Sughrue said.
“He traveled extensively he was able to freely visit and live in France and Switzerland and Italy, so without making too political a point, we wanted to show Dickens, one of the greatest writer of all time, Dickens was a man of Europe, a man of the world,” she added.
This was not just a personal interest for Dickens but this world view and informed the themes of his novels.
“Anyone that reads Oliver Twist,” Sughrue continued. “There is something that you can relate to in that story.”
What makes Dickens popular is the universal human themes his work grapples with, the director added.
Another great draw of his writing was the fact that he focused on ordinary people, characters that the majority of the population could actually relate to.
“It’s about love, and loss, loss of a loved one, falling in love and falling out of love, and humor,” she said.
“Trying to find the humor in sometimes tragic situations.”
He was also a keen social critic and was deeply disturbed by his experiences of slavery when he first visited the United States in 1842.
“He wrote very passionately and he felt no one should be treated in that way,” Sughrue said.
The author of “Great Expectations” was notoriously good at creating an epic cliff hanger.
“He wrote in a serialized format, so they would come out in monthly parts,” Sughrue said, not unlike how we as consumers have turned to television series of late, and Dickens was writing for a similar audience and format in this sense.
The exhibition showcases pieces from its collection to offer viewers a unique experience of the writer.
His traveling bag, trinkets he brought back from his travels and a copy of “David Copperfield” that went on an Antarctic expedition in 1910 are all on show.
The exhibition, which runs until Nov. 14, has been co-curated by expert and professor Juliet John of the Royal Holloway University of London.