While many are off slaving away at work at this ripe time of 12:52 PM on a Tuesday, I am at home contemplating the single most important question ever asked of the millennia, “If I could invite anyone dead or alive to attend a dinner party with me at my humble abode, who would it be?” This great question plagues my thoughts both day and night. I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about this topic. When I go to write research papers for school, all I can bring myself to do is write the names of these famous celebrities.
Not at all being sarcastic.
So, to give me a semblance of rest and to officially “bury the hatchet,” I decided to say my piece on the matter, only because I knew those who read my blog are just craving to know this life-changing information. This time, I’m writing the “classic author edition” of this question, as there are many deserving authors I’d like to sit with at my table.
So, who would I have over if they dared accept the invitation? Well, I will tell you.
I have but one worry! I honestly don’t think my kitchen is big enough for this!
F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald is the renowned author of The Great Gatsby, a tale of great riches and equally great emptiness. Through Fitzgerald’s descriptive and flowery language, as well as his thoughtful use of characters and storyline, he uses symbolism to paint a broader meaning to every reader of his books. With The Great Gatsby set in the early 1920s, you get a real taste for the decadence of this age.
If you research Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, you quickly realize they are quite the characters themselves! Not everyone realizes that Zelda was an author, as well.
I would like to meet these “larger than life” people to see and interact with these larger-than-life historical and literature icons. I hear so many tales about them, which leads me to wonder what is true and what is fiction. Are they always as wild as the documentaries and books make them out to be? Or are these socialites down-to-earth people when around more polite company?
During our dinner party, I would most likely ask Fitzgerald about his writing process and how he worked through the pain of rejection so many times. I know from research that his process was not perfect, and he struggled with many things in his adult life, especially alcoholism. Did he try to work past this? What lessons did he learn throughout these times, or did he go unchanged? These are more the questions of the inner life of Mr. Fitzgerald, as many other sources paint the outer life while neglecting the latter.
Charles Dickens is the author of great classics such as David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, The Tale of Two Cities, The Christmas Carol, and much more if you wish to do the extra research. His books came at a time when London’s poor were roaming the streets and filling the factories. Orphans were rampant and so were the children forced to work in cruel and unsafe factories. This practice was widely accepted, which did not settle well with Dickens. He worked in one such factory as a child, so Dickens’ work was an act of “humanizing” the poor. He made the streets a reality for many who had no clue the severity of circumstances outside their doors.
During our dinner, I assume Dickens would be very witty, considering the jokes and sarcasm found within his book. My husband Ben and my father would get along well with Dickens in this aspect. Maybe he would come up with his famous nicknames for each one of us, based off of some silly characteristic or personality trait that we possess. (For reference, Dickens’s characters many times had very unique names created by the author like Fezzwig or Scrooge or even the mean Master Creakle and Murdstone. There are many more humorous ones if you pay careful attention while reading his novels.
My favorite story of Dickens’ is his novel David Copperfield, a character based on Dickens’s own life. I know usually it’s frowned upon to suggest this, but watch the BBC David Copperfield before reading the book. It will make you love the book ten times more while explaining some of the more complicated themes. After this, your motivation for reading the book is increased, too.
Charlotte Bronte is the author known for writing Jane Eyre, a story I loved even in elementary. My dad would watch the older black and white movie with me, and the twists and turns of Bronte’s novel captured my attention even after multiple times watching. When I got older, I started reading these books that I only knew from movies.
What interests me most about Charlotte Bronte and other women writers in this period of history is their sheer perseverance to keep writing. They were authors in an era that scoffed at women writers and did not take them seriously. Usually, they had to print under male names. If I were so honored to have Charlotte Bronte attend this fictitious dinner party, I would ask her billions of questions to find out how exactly she accomplished publishing and all the creative hoops she had to jump through to get there. I would also ask about the symbolism behind Jane Eyre, as there are some conflicting ideas about it in literature communities. Authorial intent is the way we should aim to view books.
C. S. Lewis
I would invite C. S. Lewis to the mix not only because he is the wonderful author of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but because he accomplished wonders in authoring books for Christianity after going from a complete atheist to a Christian in adulthood. Mere Christianity, A Grief Observed, and Screwtape Letters are a few of his other books. He also sounds like a fun and humorous character, at least from the documentaries I’ve watched about him.
His group of writer friends that he met with (including J. R. R. Tolkein) to just have fun and create together sound a lot like me and my friend Joanna on a much less famed scale. If C. S. Lewis came to my dinner party, I’d expect he’d wear his classic button-down vest and probably make jokes and insightful little tidbits the entire night. I suspect he’d also want a cup of tea while he was there, which he was known to like.
Louisa May Alcott
I tried my hardest not to include this author, just because I know I’ve talked about her timeless other times. Alas! Here she is. How could I NOT invite her over when her novel Little Women impacted my life immensely as a child? In fifth grade, I read the book from cover to cover. My parents can attest to this since they caught me reading into the wee hours of the night while I envisioned Jo, Laurie, Meg, Amy, and Beth on all their glorious adventures.
Louisa May Alcott not only sparks curiosity because she created worlds that make her readers curl up in a comforting little ball by the fireplace- she sparks curiosity because of her life and unique views. The Alcott family were Transcendentalists. Transcendentalism was a belief in the Enlightenment era (affecting society from the 17th to the 19th century), which seems very attractive on the outside but holds views that I do not align with as they go against a consistent interpretation of the Bible. Anyway, it’d still be super interesting to talk to her about these views and hear all they entail. Ralph Waldo Emerson was even friends with Alcott’s father. It’d be interesting to discover what everyday life for the Alcotts was like.
At the end of our night…
I would say my adieus. These authors played an enormous part in my life, in countless other everyday little ol’ readers’ lives, and in societal development. By connecting with someone else’s writing in such a way, you are bonded uniquely with them. What a beautiful gift that one person can bestow to another- the gift of understanding and appreciation.
All of us need to remember that these authors were just people. They were people doing what they loved to do, creating worlds and painting a canvas of words unto those who wished to witness their art. Because of those who persevere in writing, we can live more lives than we ever could have otherwise by simply opening a book.
In my closing note:
There are people out there today that have the potential to be the next F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the next Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte, the next C. S. Lewis and Louisa May Alcott. They can become the next classic author if only they continue writing and believe enough in the purpose of their work.