Charles John Huffham Dickens hoef ik hier niet verder in te leiden. Iedereen kent hem. Hij was één van de belangrijkste Britse schrijver van het Victoriaanse tijdperk. Zijn beroemdste romans zijn ongetwijfeld David Copperfield (1849-1850, grotendeels autobiografisch), Great Expectations (1860-1861), Oliver Twist en Nicholas Nickleby. Google geeft in 0,22 seconden 19.100.000 resultaten. Wie wil kan er zijn leven aan wijden. (Goethe komt trouwens op 27.100.000 in 0,08 seconden. Leuke sport…) Hieronder het begin van mijn favoriet David Copperfield.
I am Born
“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.
In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.
I need say nothing here, on the first head, because nothing can show better than my history whether that prediction was verified or falsified by the result. On the second branch of the question, I will only remark, that unless I ran through that part of my inheritance while I was still a baby, I have not come into it yet. But I do not at all complain of having been kept out of this property; and if anybody else should be in the present enjoyment of it, he is heartily welcome to keep it.
I was born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going people were short of money about that time, or were short of faith and preferred cork jackets, I don’t know; all I know is, that there was but one solitary bidding, and that was from an attorney connected with the bill-broking business, who offered two pounds in cash, and the balance in sherry, but declined to be guaranteed from drowning on any higher bargain. Consequently the advertisement was withdrawn at a dead loss—for as to sherry, my poor dear mother’s own sherry was in the market then—and ten years afterwards the caul was put up in a raffle down in our part of the country, to fifty members at half-a-crown a head, the winner to spend five shillings. I was present myself, and I remember to have felt quite uncomfortable and confused at a part of myself being disposed of in that way. The caul was won, I recollect, by an old lady with a hand-basket, who, very reluctantly, produced from it the stipulated five shillings, all in halfpence, and twopence halfpenny short—as it took an immense time and a great waste of arithmetic to endeavour without any effect to prove to her. It is a fact which will be long remembered as remarkable down there, that she was never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at ninety-two. I have understood that it was, to the last, her proudest boast, that she never had been on the water in her life, except upon a bridge; and that over her tea (to which she was extremely partial) she, to the last, expressed her indignation at the impiety of mariners and others, who had the presumption to go “meandering” about the world. It was in vain to represent to her that some conveniences, tea perhaps included, resulted from this objectionable practice. She always returned, with greater emphasis and with an instinctive knowledge of the strength of her objection, “Let us have no meandering.”
Uit: David Copperfield (Chapter 1)Charles Dickens (7 februari 1812 – 9 juni 1870)
Omdat het WK voetbal is begonnen: een zeer literair voetbalgezelschap uit de oude doos:
Podiumweekend op kasteel Oud-Poelgeest in Oegstgeest, zaterdag 1 en zondag 2 december 1951. Op zondagochtend werd er een partijtje gevoetbald: ‘Podium tegen De Windroos, de poëziereeks van Uitgeverij Holland, die onder redactie stond van Ad den Besten. Hermans, voorzien van een hoorn, was scheidsrechter.
Na de wedstrijd werd het gezelschap gefotografeerd. Staand van links naar rechts: J.B. Charles (pseudoniem van W.H. Nagel), Hans van Straten, Harry Mulisch, Paul Rodenko (deels zichtbaar), Ad den Besten, Maurits Mok, Henk van der Horst, D. Opsomer (pseudoniem van Dick Vriesman), Leo Klatser, Oey Tjeng Sit, W.F. Hermans, Wim Schouten, Bert Schierbeek, en L.F. Abell. Hurkend: Henk van Tienhoven, Geert Lubberhuizen, Herman van Praag, Gerrit Borgers, Meine S. Koops en Bergman (pseudoniem van Aart Kok). Liggend: Jan Meulenbelt.
Foto Frans Zuydwijk/Collectie Letterkundig Museum