Happy Friday, everyone. If you are like me, you are looking forward to a weekend with lots and lots of reading in it. I’ll be finishing Ransom Riggs’ strange and wonderful first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which is inspired by and woven around Riggs’ amazing collection of creepy vintage photographs of children. I will also be dipping into Peter Ackroyd’s wonderful The Thames. If you don’t know Ackroyd’s historical and biographical work, change that: London: The Biography is just marvelous, and he just brought out a study of all the great stuff that’s under London, from tube stations and tunnels to Roman ampitheaters to sewers and hideouts and crypts. And, of the zillions of Dickens biographies out there, Ackroyd’s–which is scandalously out of print–is the best.
Which brings me to Dickens. And to Christopher Hitchens. And to the fun quiz that occasions the title of this post. Don’t cheat!
Hitchens’ last piece was on Dickens, and appears in the February edition of Vanity Fair to commemorate the bicentennial of Dickens’ birth. It’s mostly a meditation on how the legendary-ness of Dickens has swamped the truth, so that false, or at least unverifiable, anecdotes about him get as much play, and count as much, as the more clearly factual stuff.
Hitchens’ piece also contains a wonderful sentence: “Opening his own memoir, the most inept fictional narrator of my generation showed that he was out of his depth by dismissing ‘all that David Copperfield kind of crap.’”
Now for the quiz. Who said that? No googling to get the answer. It must come from your memory or not come at all.