Monday, February 06, 2012

Dickens' perspective . . .

—  Mr. D. —
HARD TIMES AGAIN: that's the title to a fine article on The American Conservative (go figure) by Theodore Dalrymple, who contends that "Amid the wreck of capitalism and socialism, Dickens is timelier than ever."

We live in hard times, and all the indications are that they may get much, even very much, harder. No one, at any rate, would take a bet that they won’t.

The number of children in America claiming subsidized meals in school has shot up; the homeless are increasing by the hour; the formerly prosperous are laid off without so much as a thank you; the young struggle to find any work at all; beggars are making a comeback on the streets of cities as if they had been hiding all these years, waiting for the right moment to emerge from their subterranean lairs into the world above.

The February bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, then, could hardly come at a more appropriate moment in economic history, for Dickens was the revealer, the scourge, the prose poet, of urban destitution—a destitution that, in our waking nightmares, we fear may yet return.

Take a minute to read what Theo has to say, and ponder his observation on how a North Korean looks at the world portrayed by Dickens. I look at the acreage of "Escort" ads and the tawdry rub-and-tug parlors and I realize that the poor little match girls of London that Dickens encountered, would feel right at home.

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