Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Charles Dickens - Family Man...Not So Much

One of the world’s greatest writers on childhood was not a great father to his own 10 children, Robert Gottlieb’s new history reveals.

From a piece on the Daily Beast...

Dickens was the great wizard of family life, a tireless demon who seemed to work full-time at organizing private theatricals and picnics.  He gave all his children nicknames—his favorite daughter, Kate, was called Lucifer Box, because her “temper would flare up” like a “lucifer” or safety match. But Dickens was also forever in a hurry. He was good with babies and his children were never afraid to interrupt him; Thomas Mann’s offspring, in contrast, trembled before the inviolable door of his study. Dickens grew distant once they reached adolescence, though, and insisted on settling the futures of his seven sons while they were still in their teens.  He wanted them off his hands, wanted them to pay their own way, as he had, and complained that had “brought up the largest family ever known with the smallest disposition to do anything for themselves.”
The phrasing turns them into characters, like something out of one of his own novels, and in fact his oldest son once wrote that “the children of his brain were much more real to him at times than we were.”

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