En af mine helt store litterære helte, Charles Dickens, fylder 200 år 7. februar, og i den anledning skræller Per Theil, Politikens nye kritikredaktør, en ny biografi på bagsiden af 2. sektion, og jeg tillader mig at blive alvorligt irriteret over, hvor lidt af ca. ingenting han har at sige om skriftkunstneren og -forhekseren Dickens, som betyder ca. alting; hvor jeg bare ikke gider alt det sodede liv og tapetpåklistrede fortolkning:
Da faderen kommer i gældsfængsel, sendes den 12 år gamle dreng på arbejde på en skosværtefabrik. Penge bliver et tilbagevendede issue i både Dickens' privatliv og hans bøger.
Her er, hvad det drejer sig om, begyndelsen på et brev til vennen Felton med en historie om en mand, der elskede østers, som jeg elsker Dickens:
1, DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, YORK GATE, REGENT'S PARK, LONDON, Sunday, July 31st, 1842.
MY DEAR FELTON,
Of all the monstrous and incalculable amount of occupation that ever beset one unfortunate man, mine has been the most stupendous since I came home. The dinners I have had to eat, the places I have had to go to, the letters I have had to answer, the sea of business and of pleasure in which I have been plunged, not even the genius of an ---- or the pen of a ---- could describe.
Wherefore I indite a monstrously short and wildly uninteresting epistle to the American Dando; but perhaps you don't know who Dando was. He was an oyster-eater, my dear Felton. He used to go into oyster-shops, without a farthing of money, and stand at the counter eating natives, until the man who opened them grew pale, cast down his knife, staggered backward, struck his white forehead with his open hand, and cried, "You are Dando!!!" He has been known to eat twenty dozen at one sitting, and would have eaten forty, if the truth had not flashed upon the shopkeeper. For these offences he was constantly committed to the House of Correction. During his last imprisonment he was taken ill, got worse and worse, and at last began knocking violent double knocks at Death's door. The doctor stood beside his bed, with his fingers on his pulse. "He is going," says the doctor. "I see it in his eye. There is only one thing that would keep life in him for another hour, and that is--oysters." They were immediately brought. Dando swallowed eight, and feebly took a ninth. He held it in his mouth and looked round the bed strangely. "Not a bad one, is it?" says the doctor. The patient shook his head, rubbed his trembling hand upon his stomach, bolted the oyster, and fell back--dead. They buried him in the prison-yard, and paved his grave with oyster-shells.
Giv mig en slurp Dickens eller 9 på mit futuristiske dødsleje, så jeg kan leve som læser den time mere!