What the Dickens
Today I learn from Mr. Fritze that a number of readers wrote to him to say that the allusion to Dickens* had gladdened their hearts.
It’s just a little thing, but it illustrates what must be done to make an allusion effective. The allusion must work on its own, not depending on the reader’s catching an echo. For the reader who does, the allusion is an additional treat, a lagniappe.
*For the non- Dickens-inclined: In David Copperfield, the minor character Barkis expresses his matrimonial interest in Peggotty by saying, “Barkis is willin’.”