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Monday, August 29, 2005

Engel Talks on Dickens and Poe

Dr. Elliot Engel visited campus again today and shared a lecture (he prefers them to be called “talks”) about Charles Dickens. Previously I had been uninspired to read Dickens’ work other than that which I had been previously acquainted. I may not tackle A Tale of Two Cities yet, but his talk is motivational and inspirational.

It is even more so considering I have had a previous connection to the Dickens family. I believe it was Charles Dickens great-great-granddaughter that spoke at a Woman’s Club of Gaston County meeting, and when she heard of my story she was kind enough to send a graduation gift to help out with college. I can’t remember if I’ve sent a thank you note, and it’s a shame to let such a thing go, but I hope a public thank you can suffice until I find her contact information. This kind of unconditional generosity bestowed upon a person whom she’d never met is quite inspiring in itself. That’s why when I heard that Dr. Engel was selling one of his books to benefit the Dickens Society and its work with a children’s hospital in London. I find this kind of philanthropy quite in line with my beliefs as a Christian, a Freemason, and a member of Delta Upsilon. It probably had something to do with my own experience, being orphaned twice and probably three times myself, though the math would be a bit tricky to describe and utterly irrelevant to conveying the sense of compassion I have with children suffering world wide.

The book is entitled A Dab of Dickens & A Touch of Twain. It’s a collection of essays about the life and works of eighteen authors in world and American literature. It includes Dickens (obviously), Twain (a fellow Brother of the Briar), and Poe.

Poe is uniquely interesting to me for several reasons, probably best personified in the attribution of his title as a “twisted genius.” I can relate to the hardships in his life though I’m glad to say I’ve fared better in the realm of personal relationships and relative sanity. Dr. Engel is performing his “talk” on Poe tomorrow, and though I’ll be late because of class I can’t wait to go. I think its safe to say I more appreciative of literature thanks in part to Dr. Engel and in a large part to my middle-grades and high school English teachers. Thanks!

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