Travels with Charles by Jos Paardekooper
Sunday 20th November 2016, 3 pm
Jos Paardekooper (1949) has been employed in Higher Vocational Education in Deventer since 1975 after completing his studies of Dutch language and literature and Philosophy of Language at Leiden University, originally as a teacher of Dutch language and literature, but later as a teacher of Culture and Society. He frequently delivers talks and publishes in the field of cultural history and literature. From 2007-2009 he was Poet of the City of Deventer. He has been studying the Russian language for a few years.
Charles Dickens made two long journeys through the United States. Even during his first journey (1842/43), when he had only published a few famous novels, he was not only a legend in England but also on the other side of the Atlantic. His experiences with the “new world”, which were not only positive, were laid down in a delightful travelogue, American Notes, which was published shortly after his return to England.
His second journey (1867/68) was of a completely different nature, although he mainly revisited the places he had called at a quarter of a century before. The United States was undergoing a major economic crisis at the time, after a destructive civil war, and for Dickens an intense life as a writer and an unhappy marriage had left their marks. Moreover he had discovered that apart from being a writer he was a gifted storyteller, and thus the last few years of Dickens’s life were mainly filled with demanding reading tours, when he would read from his own works to an an audience of 2000 or more. We learn about his public readings from the accounts by the manager of his American tours, George Dolby whose memoirs are collected in Charles Dickens as I knew him.
Those two journeys and the corresponding accounts now belong to a lesser known part of Dickens’s life and works. Unjustly so, for together they constitute samples of his life as a writer and his view of a country which at the time was still regarded by the “old world” as an example of a well-functioning democracy.
The talk itself will be held in Dutch. The text links from Dickens – will be read in English by Marijke Lemmerman.