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The Dickens Quiz

Giugno 2012
Quanto ne sapete di Dickens? Mettetevi alla prova con questo quiz. E poi vi presentiamo una Dickens in persona: Lucinda, la pro-pro-pro-pronipote. Che ci spiega perchè lo scrittore inglese è più attuale che mai.

di Louise Johnson and © British Council 2011

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Lucinda Hawksley
Lucinda Hawksley

Here are the titles of six Dickens novels, while the summaries of their plots are below.
Try and choose the right plot for the right title (the answers are below). 

_.Hard Times

_.The Adventures of Oliver Twist

_. Great Expectations

_.A Christmas Carol

_.Dombey and Son

_.A Tale of Two Cities

1. In this story, a rich businessman who dreams of creating a family business is disappointed when his young son dies, leaving him with only a daughter, who he ignores. Many problems follow when he remarries, and in the end his business goes bankrupt. The man, now poor, misses his daughter. Happily she returns, married, with grandchildren.


2. This book is set in an industrial city in the north-west of England, where people have to work 15-hour days in cotton factories. The factories are dirty, the work is difficult. The factory owners and the politicians try to make every aspect of life and knowledge based on fact, and there is no room for "fancy," love or kindness. This book was seen as an attack on social problems seen in Dickens’ day.


3. The boy at the centre of this story is an orphan who is brought up in a workhouse – a place for poor people in 19th-century England. Conditions were very difficult there, the boy is badly treated and not fed enough. He also has some unhappy experiences when he starts his working life, and so he runs away to London. Here, however, he falls in with a gang of robbers. Some good people try and look after the boy, while the robbers try to pull him into a life of crime.

4. Ebenezer Scrooge is an old man without love. On December 24th he is visited by four ghosts. The first is his former business partner.  The second takes Scrooge to the past, and reminds him that he was once young and kind. The third takes him on a journey in the present, and shows how we must all help each other. The last one shows him a loveless future. He realises he must change and wakes up a new man.


5. This book is set during the French Revolution. Two men love the same woman. One of them, Charles Darnay, marries her, but he is arrested by the police because he is an aristocrat. The court sentences him to have his head cut off on the guillotine, but the other man, Sydney Carton, gets into the prison, drugs Darnay, and takes his place at the execution, because of his love for Darnay’s wife.


6. A little boy meets a frightening old man at the beginning of this story. The little boy lives with his sister and her husband. He starts visiting a strange old lady. The boy surprisingly starts receiving a good income from a secret person, and leaves the village to live in London. He is told that he will inherit a lot of money. He thinks that this all comes from the strange old lady, but in fact it is from the frightening old man.

Quiz answers: 1. Dombey and Son. 2. Hard Times. 3. Oliver Twist. 4. A Christmas Carol. 5. A Tale of Two Cities. 6. Great Expectations.

www.teachingenglish.org.uk © BBC | British Council 2011


INTERVIEW 

AHEAD OF HIS TIME

by Louise Johnson

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, one of the greatest novelists of all time. But are Dickens’ books still relevant today? According to Lucinda Hawksley, who is Dickens’ great-great-great-granddaughter, in addition to being a writer herself, the answer is definitely yes:

Lucinda Hawksley (Standard British accent)

I think his books are incredibly relevant to today’s society, and not just in the UK: in the developing world they’re even more relevant. I was in India earlier this year, I’ve been in Central America quite a lot and it is shocking: the injustices and the miseries that he was writing about still happen all over the world. The inequality between men and women; the fact that women don’t have rights in some countries; that they become almost the property of their husbands; the inequality between boy and girl children and the enormous gap between rich and poor. I think the sad thing is that we are really going back to it in Europe as well. You see the way that people are living now, there’s a lot more poverty and there’s a lot of extreme wealth. And this is just what 19th century London was like when Dickens was writing. And I find it really sad.

AHEAD OF HIS TIME

During his life Dickens also fought a number of social campaigns:

Lucinda Hawksley

One of the things he felt really strongly about was sanitary reform and it’s something that we take for granted in the western world, but if you go to Asia or Africa you realise that a lot of the diseases are caused by poor sanitation; and it’s a basic human necessity, as well as a right, to have clean, safe water.  And people didn’t have that in 19th century England, just as, very sadly, they don’t have it now in other parts of the world. And one of Dickens' brothers was a sanitary engineer and he did a lot of work with him and talked to him a lot about it and he was very keen on making sure that people understood why there needed to be better sanitation, and that was a very important cause in Victorian England.
He was also very concerned about the stigma of illegitimacy. He believed that children shouldn’t be punished for being illegitimate, which was a very radical idea in a very puritanical Christian era. He also wrote about prostitution and tried to help women who had been prostitutes, or who had had a child out of marriage. He wanted society to realise that it was the man’s fault as well, and that women shouldn’t be blamed for the fact that they were the ones who got pregnant. So he was very forward-thinking.


LUCINDA HAWKSLEY

Lucinda Anne Dickens Hawksley is a direct descendant of Charles Dickens (1812-70). She  has written books about her ancestors, including one on Dickens’ younger daughter, Katey. Lucinda Hawksley also writes books about travel and art history. Her latest publication, Charles Dickens, commemorates the bicentenary of the great man's birth.

For more information on events to mark Charles Dickens’ bicentenary, visit www.dickens2012.org


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