Culture

Laughter and Horror at Dickens’s Bicentenary

Dickens 2012, the official UK website celebrating English novelist Charles Dickens on the bicentenary year of his birth, is mostly silent on the author’s anti-Semitism, most famously expressed in the notorious characters of Fagin in “Oliver Twist.” A Jewish villain, albeit a comic one, Fagin is still highly offensive to many, as PBS discovered in 2009 when it broadcast a BBC-TV film of “Oliver Twist”.

Even in the 1850s, readers of London’s Jewish Chronicle expressed comparable outrage at the story’s stereotypes. So it is good to have a view of Dickens from a perspective of Yiddishkeit, in the form of British actress Miriam Margolyes. Margolyes, who turns 71 on May 18, is fondly remembered as Madame Morrible in the Broadway musical “Wicked,” Professor Sprout in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and a host of classical roles on stage and screen.

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Laughter and Horror at Dickens’s Bicentenary

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