Tale of many cities as Dickens anniversary nears

Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:54am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Charles Dickens will be feted around the world next year in literature, film, theater, music and art, underlining his international cultural impact two hundred years after his birth.

The author of classics like "Oliver Twist," "Great Expectations," "Bleak House" and "A Tale of Two Cities" is considered one of the greatest novelists to have written in English.

Sales of his books, which are still in print, run into hundreds of millions of copies, and during his lifetime his works were turned into theater.

With the advent of cinema in the late 19th century and television decades later, Dickens became the most adapted novelist of all time, with more than 100 films -- short and feature length -- made in the silent era alone.

"The prose style of Dickens is a foreshadowing of cinematic technique," said Michael Eaton, co-curator of what is billed as the largest retrospective of Dickens on screen ever staged.

Dickens on Screen, part of the broader, global Dickens 2012 initiative (www.dickens2012.org), will be held at the British Film Institute (BFI) in London from January to March 2012.

Movie adaptations will also be screened next year in the United States, Germany, the Philippines and China thanks to the state-funded cultural agency the British Council.

"When we think of all Dickens's extraordinary characters and nail-biting cliffhangers it is not surprising he's the most adapted author of all time," said Heather Stewart, the BFI's creative director.   Continued...