Sunday, October 16, 2011

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst's "Becoming Dickens"

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is Fellow and Tutor in English, Magdalen College, Oxford.

His media work includes writing arts features and reviews for the Daily Telegraph, contributing to UK and US radio and television programs, and acting as the historical advisor on recent BBC adaptations of Jane Eyre (2006) and Emma (2009).

Here Douglas-Fairhurst suggests a director and some actors for an adaptation of his new book, Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist
In some ways this book was inspired by the 1998 movie Sliding Doors, which showed two versions of the same life going down diverging paths, depending on whether or not the leading character catches a particular train. It’s a sharp reminder of how easily someone’s life can veer off in a different direction, and how many possible lives we all carry around inside us – the rival selves that repeatedly get aborted by choice or chance. Dickens was obsessed by the idea, and often reminded his friends that he could have ended up as an actor or a beggar just as easily as a writer. I’d love to see a movie version of Becoming Dickens that dramatised this idea, by having dozens of different versions of Dickens wandering around, like a Victorian sequel to Todd Haynes’s 2007 Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There. That way I wouldn’t have to choose between the actors who could play Dickens. Dan Stevens, Ben Whishaw, James McAvoy – they could all chip in. Christopher Nolan would direct it – from Memento to Batman Begins and beyond, he has shown himself to be fascinated by how we end up as the people we are. He might even allow me a cameo role as one of the hangers-on who swarmed around Dickens once he became – at an enviably young age – the world’s first international literary celebrity.
Read more about Becoming Dickens at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue