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By Richard Berg

Charles Dickens.

Chicago, IL – I have lived into my sixties without giving really serious thought to 19th century English literature. My Catholic school teachers like Sister Irene and Sister Bridget continuously tried, but 45 years ago I was living the life of Eric Forman from That 70s Show. Younger and hipper lay teachers successfully introduced me to African American authors like Claude Brown, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. As a result, at the time I consumed Charles Dickens’ literature largely through a series of second-rate movies, cartoons and uneven theatrical performances that typically undermined the author’s work.