My father was an avid book collector all his life. Among other authors, he loved Charles Dickens. He gave me several of his favorite volumes of Dickens’s great works, like “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Oliver Twist,” “Nicholas Nickleby,” and “Great Expectations.” Dickens wrote his books in monthly installments in a magazine format. He was paid by the word. (I wish that was true for writing this Blog.) Reading his stories stretched over months. When the monthly installments would arrive on sailing ships straight from England, at the docks in New York harbor, there would be riots with people fighting to get a copy to find out what happened next in the story. These magazines are collected together to form the completed “book.” When I hold the original magazines, and see the words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” as people first read those words, I get chills. There are advertisements on the pages as well. So I am carried back to that time, when the author, Charles Dickens saw his work published and going out to the world. I hope he smiled, and felt some sort of satisfaction.
The story in the original magazine of say “The Tale of Two Cities” is word for word what one can now down load for free from the internet into their Kindle or onto their laptop screen. But it does not evoke the same feelings of reverence or connection to the creative source of the work. It is also not the same experience reading off a Kindle or laptop screen, as it is laying by a roaring fire on a cold North Eastern night, curled up with a cup of coco or single malt scotch, and reading a book.
© Mickey Lemle 2009