Cutting through the bullshit.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Dickens World

In a development begging for parody, perhaps even self parodying, the BBC reports that next month ‘a modern, aluminium-clad hangar on the Chatham Maritime estate in Kent’, will host the opening of the brainchild of deceased theme park designer, Gerry O'Sullivan-Beare. Dickens World!

Solvent aromas fill the nostrils as…Workmen are hard at it, creating the rickety backstreets and miasmatic waterways of urban, Victorian England. The overall effect is rather like Disney painted brown and plunged into twilight… its creators promise a flavour of "dark, smoky, moody London, full of smells and mist".

Its recreation of the world of Dickens is decked out in hand-painted, brick-effect plaster fascia and promises to smell just as his world would.

The debate around the project has focused on the ‘scepticism among those not ready for a theme-park tribute to one of the most popular novelists in the English language.’

Managing director Kevin Christie has a glint in his eye that only momentarily dims at suggestions that this experience is not 100% authentic Dickens.

"We think of the books as mostly about poverty and misery, but we tend to forget this was the great age of the Victorian supremacy - there were big things going on," he says.

Former Dickens Fellowship joint secretary Thelma Grove has worked as a consultant on the theme park. She is adamant it is the right path to take for an author who is as relevant today as he was 150 years ago.

"A lot of the social concerns are still a problem for us today, with these young people going around shooting each other," she says.

Just like they did in Dickens’s day. But is it authentic?

Dickens World is faithful to the London of the period in the same way that Disney's Cinderella Castle is faithful to gothic chateau architecture. Ish.

So for those who really want a taste of the world of the emerging working class of early to mid Nineteenth Century England evoked in Dickens’s and Engels’s work, you’ll just have to visit the slums of Karachi or Rio or Jakarta.

Apologies to Ellis, who seems to have found this story first.

No comments:

Post a Comment