Dickens goes up to the counter and orders a cup of tea. He quickly finishes it and asks for more. He can’t afford to pay for the refill. The barista drags him out into the street and sends him to the poorhouse, where he pines away for his lost love, who is married to another man. He works his fingers to the bone in a factory, eventually rising to the upper echelons of society. Ten years later, he walks into the same Starbucks and orders a cup of tea. When he asks for a refill, the barista gives it to him free of charge. He pays for it anyway.

Tu sei parte della mia esistenza, sei parte di me. Tu sei stata in ogni singola riga che ho letto, sei stata in ogni singola cosa che ho visto: sul fiume, sulle vele delle navi, nelle paludi, nelle nuvole, nella luce, nel buio, nel vento, nei boschi, nel mare, nelle strade. Tu hai prestato la tua forma ad ogni leggiadra fantasia che la mia mente sia riuscita mai a raccontare. E fino all’ultima ora della mia vita sarai legata a me come parte del mio carattere, parte del bene che c’è in me, parte del male.

“The invisible woman” (2013)

Non mi riterrò innamorata finché non potrò applicare questa frase alla persona, chiunque sarà, davanti a me.

So perhaps critics who bemoan the death of the novel (as if it’s a new moan) should pick a new patron saint. One who didn’t write melodramatic stories designed to draw attention to the “common” poor instead of to ivory towers of the social or literary variety. One who didn’t publish his work in titillating ways, designed to drive sales. One who wasn’t just so damn good at what he did. Because what they mean when they say “the novel is dead” is that the Very Serious Intellectual Novel That Not Very Many People Read is dead…but those aren’t the kind of novels Dickens ever really wrote.

The influx of ads during December reminded me of some of my favorite ads in our serial copy of Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Printed and circulated from March 1852 to September1853, each of the twenty parts includes multiple advertisements at the back for clocks, cure-all pills, bedding, presses, and my favorite, crochet patterns from Marsland, Son, & Co. Issue no.10’s December snowflake design (the last image), promised a new design issued each month, but you can see one of the bird patterns was a repeat!


Leigh Hunt Collection PR4556 .A1 1853