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What Would Dickens Say about the U.S.A. Today?

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Book Discussion Group Forming American Notes for General Circulation by Charles Dickens.

Riverside

The Riverside Dickens Festival, the Riverside Library and the Friends of the Library are sponsoring four book discussion sessions in January, 2004 at the Riverside Central Library, 3581 Mission Inn Avenue in downtown Riverside.




The Book Discussion Group is open to 30 adults. The participants will receive a free book, schedule and study guide. Cheryl Brown, Publisher, The Black Voice News, will be a participant in the four week study.

The four sessions will be held on Sunday, January 11, 18, 25 and Saturday, January 31, 2004, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The discussion leader is Susan Purkart, retired professor from San Bernardino Valley College.

Registration will be handled by Professor Purkart, (909) 788-7008. The Riverside Library phone number is (909) 826-5369.

Charles Dickens was a 30-year-old best selling author in England and in the U.S. when he visited America for the first time in 1842. He was a celebrity comparable to our modern rock stars and was greeted by mobs of fans at every stop on his six-month journey through many States and parts of Canada.

After he returned to England, he published a book called American Notes for General Circulation describing his travels. He found much to praise and much to laugh at including himself, but his book, his letters and his subsequent novel “Martin Chuzzlewit” show that he found many things in American life which he strongly disliked.

Dickens came to the U.S. with great expectations, hoping to find a model republic far better than the old British system. He was disappointed, as he revealed when he wrote to his friend Macready, “This is not the republic I came to see; this is not the republic of my imagination.”

Dickens was one of the earlier authors to truthfully write about the institution of slavery. His book American Notes is full of descriptions and expresses Dickens’ disdain for slavery and for the prison system. His life was shaped by his father being thrown into debtor’s prison.

Why was Dickens disappointed in 1842? What did he praise? What would he think of political and social life in the U.S. today?

The Riverside Dickens Festival’s main days will be held February 6, 7, and 8, 2004, in historic downtown Riverside.

There will be performances, pageantry, Dickens character parades, demonstrations, vendors, teas, music, a Victorian Ball, fashion shows, and Evensong. To be placed on the mailing list, phone (800) 430-4140.

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