Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dickensville

In an aptly titled piece in the Guardian, Simon Swift asks What the Dickens?, referring to the £62m Dickens World theme park which is due to open in Chatham, Kent at the end of May.

It is described as:
... an exciting indoor visitor complex themed around the life, books and times of one of Britain’s best loved authors, Charles Dickens. It will take visitors on a fascinating journey through Dickens’ lifetime as they step back into Dickensian England and are immersed in the urban streets, sounds and smells of the 19th century.
And it boasts the following attractions:
... one of Europe’s largest dark boat rides, the Haunted house of Ebenezer Scrooge, a state-of-the art animatronic show, Victorian School Room, 4D high definition show and Fagin’s Den.
Is this an exciting way of bringing literature alive or just another great British monument to tackiness? (I confess a deep affection for all things tacky, and I firmly believe that Malaysia does tacky with a great deal more style than the Brits. Look no further than Sunway Pyramid!)

And on behalf of Britain's Tourist Board, if you were in UK on your hols, would you make a special journey to go and see Dickens World?

Meanwhile, on the Guardian blog Judith Flanders worries that the social issues that Dickens cared so much about could be trivialised, while Lindesay Irvine runs away with the idea of the turning other writers' works into theme park material. (Any one up for a nice family day out at Kafka's Castle?) Flanders has invited readers to say what authors they think should get the theme park treatment, and one commenter could well have a workable proposal for Harry Potter Land! (Oops, too late, dear!)

The closest I've come to proposing the tacky and materialistic exploitation of any author's work is this though.

(While writing this post I was haunted by the memory of an article I read, but not unfortunately blogged, last year about the rebuilding of Hardy's Wessex in China. Would be grateful for help in tracking it down.)

12 comments:

Eliza said...

Hi Sharon - I actually would go to the theme park, but would treat it as a theme park than an "educational" tour. It does cheapen the literary value of great authors, I feel, but I can just imagine the dollar signs dancing in the eyes of executives at the revenue/merchandise possibilities. Hmmm.....

44 Cemetery Road said...

Sharon, what the Dickens is going on here . . . the creator of Great Expectations going Disney on us?

What next? A Stephen King theme park?

bibliobibuli said...

i'd go too, eliza ... and probably enjoy it thoroughly. and you're right - it doesn't detract from the value of dicken's work.

tunku halim - ooooohhhhh. now you have to describe the rides of the stephen king amusement park to us in detail ...

Madcap Machinist said...

I'd love to go to Dicken's world. To me, it's just another interpretation of an author's work... though I can't decide if it would be better if the place authentically stinks.

Consider the job opportunities it creates! If only there were more stuff like this happening in Malaysia, I'd have a job I'll be happy with.

Tunku Halim said...

Sharon, you know I'd just love to do that! Has the UK got a Shakespeare theme park yet?

bibliobibuli said...

not as far as i know. why not make a proposal for bardland too?

Chet said...

But not Bartland, yah?

animah said...

Go all the way to Dickens World in the UK to experience Dickens? Perhaps the refugee camp just down the road would give a more authentic feel....
Or maybe the new KL courts...
Perhaps Lorong Haji Taib.
Shall I go on?

Jane Sunshine said...

Okay, when I get to it, maybe I will go down here and do a review for the fun of it!!!

bibliobibuli said...

that would be great!

Chet said...

Animah, you've just reminded me of my dad's shop in Chow Kit! When a friend visited for the first time and was taken upstairs to the back area which has a "lovely" view of the neighbourhood, she commented that it reminded her of Oliver Twist!

Anonymous said...

So machinist, do you like emptying trash or cleaning gum off the road ? :D