The Best of Times

You might believe that people who attend yearly celebrations devoted to a single, dead European author — an event such as Bloomsday, Burns Night, or Dickens Day — are part of a ribald crew, raising glasses, shouting honorifics, and quoting the seedier passages of their patrons’ works from memory, often in a bastard approximation of the author’s tongue (or accent). You would be right. But this year, A Dickens Day Celebration has invited royalty, and royalty has come: Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize-winner, is the keynote speaker for the evening program. It’s not such a surprise, however, as one of her many books happens to be titled Charles Dickens. If you want to go toe-to-toe with someone on the minutiae of Dickens’ life, you have your target. As for the day’s drinking — ah, yes, there is that. From noon to 6 p.m., you can upend cups at the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters Pub while enjoying lectures on Dickens by writers such as Peter Orner; there’s also a dramatic reading by Dickens impersonator Robert Young. Later that night, after Smiley’s keynote and a panel discussion stocked with Dickens scribes, Paul Whitworth gives his own dramatic reading. Which actor plays Dickens best? We’re not sure. Perhaps you do. Visit the pub for a few hours and then find out.
Wed., May 2, noon, 2012

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