Joe Hill's Which of these three Brits had the biggest cultural export impact and my answer

[Contact Me]] | [FAQ]

[Some "Dougisms" Defined]

[About Dickens of a Blog]

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

(16:57:17 CDT)

Joe Hill's Which of these three Brits had the biggest cultural export impact and my answer

Joe Hill posted a blog entry today—"Today's Big 'Huh?'"—in which he asks which of the following Brits had the biggest exported cultural impact: Dickens, Hitchcock, or The Beatles. He mentions that Shakespeare would win hands down, and I would argue taht his three choices are possibly the best choices, not only are they all really big names, but they represent three of the primary art forms: writer, director, musician. How about you, which of those three do you prefer? And, this is important, why?

I suppose I do not have to give my answer (look up at the name of this blog for a hint) but I will tell you why I chose him:

  • Novels about the less than desirables. Prior to Dickens, most important books were written about the upstanding and the rich, and maybe their noble servants. Now, most novels deal with the downbeaten and the dysfunctional, with the criminal and the reformed. I am not 100% that Dickens was the first in this, but by taking a stand for the need of writing about such in Oliver Twist, he helped to expose a new definition of the novel. It was no longer a "how-to" guide for snobbery and light romance, but a book about realistic people making hard choices in their life and suffering the consequences.
  • His use of vernacular, likewise, may have not been the first use (I am not sure) but his popularity showed that characters that acted like real people, and talked like real people, were much more memorable.

  • His serial format, his talks and readings, and his populist interactions demonstrated that a writer could be more than a person locked up in a big house on the hill. He engaged his readers and is considered by some to be the first International pop-star. His style of publishing and communication is much closer to our writer's of today than any other.
  • Not only did he write about non-idealized people, but he often included references to modern trends, London locations, and parts of his own life. This personal touch is reflected by several big writers now-a-days, and is the standard mode of Stephen King.
  • While of questionable literary merit, the sing-song and humorous nature of his names are reflected heavily, say, in the works of those like J.K. Rowling.
  • His passion for many issues showed also another use for the novel, highlighting social injustice and questioning the status quo. This sometimes preachy soap-box technique is still a normal sightt in post-Dickens literature and other art, as opposed to the more pro-status-quo art that preceded him.
  • Not only did he create a few words here or there, and a few literary archetypes, but Christmas (notably the idealized, family around the tree and singing hymns and drinking warmed scotch with quaint gifts) is partially his creation. It had died out from it's status as a religious celebration and was only celebrated, I have heard, in rural places where farm work was largely at an end in the winter.
  • Finally, his status as a self-made author, a man who rose up from poverty and a struggle for education, who financed his writing on the back of hard work and tireless devotion to the arts, is a stark break from the more patron driven and from-the-rich writings that made up a lot of 18th and prior writings.

When someone defends Dickens, they often get told how Great Expectations is a horrid book as though that was the end all of it. Or people only remember him from school reading lists. I do think that people have largely forgotten the important place Dickens has played in literature (if not Dickens, the underdog novels of Thomas Hardy, the in-vernacular novels of James Joyce, and the questioning of a novel's purpose by Ayn Rand may all have been less likely) and that's a shame. Usually when I say that Dickens is the second most important writer in the English language, people will tell me that I am talking crazy talk. I do not think so, and above is why.

Anyhow, though, what about you. Outside of Shakespeare, who is the most important British export and why? Limit to Joe Hill's three or not.

Si Vales, Valeo


If you wish to comment, please use the form below or contact me in some other way and I'll add it as soon as possible. Thanks!

Where did the comment box go?

Due to most of my friends using alternate means to contact me, and mostly SPAM bots using the comment box method, I have removed it. If you wish to contact me, please feel free to use any human-friendly contact method you wish. Thanks!

Written by Doug Bolden

For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."