Micawber Day 2013
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Haw-Haw, Popular

HiLobrow has invented a holiday! It henceforth will be celebrated each January 18 — the date (in 1935) on which George Cukor’s excellent film adaptation of David Copperfield was released. W.C. Fields brilliantly portrayed Micawber in that movie.

Wilkins Micawber is one of our favorite fictional idlers. He was introduced to the world in 1850 by Charles Dickens, who lovingly based the character on his own father. Because the hapless Micawber is forever in debt, the scheming Uriah Heep assumes that he must be dishonest — like himself. Not so! Micawber is an honest man, whose troubles are entirely due to his unwillingness to seek and inability to hold down a job.

‘You find us, Copperfield,’ said Mr. Micawber, with one eye on Traddles, ‘at present established, on what may be designated as a small and unassuming scale; but, you are aware that I have, in the course of my career, surmounted difficulties, and conquered obstacles. You are no stranger to the fact, that there have been periods of my life, when it has been requisite that I should pause, until certain expected events should turn up; when it has been necessary that I should fall back, before making what I trust I shall not be accused of presumption in terming — a spring. The present is one of those momentous stages in the life of man. You find me, fallen back, for a spring; and I have every reason to believe that a vigorous leap will shortly be the result.’

Known for his credo “Something will turn up,” Micawber’s name has become synonymous with someone who lives in optimistic expectation of better fortune, but won’t lift a finger to make it come any sooner.

Readers, we’d like to wish you the first of what we’ll sure will be many happy Micawber Days to come. Enjoy!



Joshua Glenn is an author, publisher, and semiotic analyst. He is co-author (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) of THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and co-author (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) of the family activities guide UNBORED and three forthcoming spinoffs, including UNBORED Games. He is editor of HILOBROW and publisher of the Radium Age science fiction imprint HiLoBooks. Also: Glenn manages a secretive online community known as the Hermenautic Circle; he is founding editor of the e-book club Save the Adventure; and he's a frequent co-host of Boing Boing's podcast GWEEK. In the ’00s, Glenn was an editor, columnist, and blogger for the Boston Globe's IDEAS section, he co-founded the international semiotics website SEMIONAUT, and contributed to CABINET, SLATE, and elsewhere. In the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT, worked as a dotcom and magazine editor, and contributed to THE BAFFLER, FEED, and elsewhere. His publishing company is King Mixer, LLC; and his semiotic analysis consultancy is Semiovox LLC. He lives in Boston with his wife and children.