Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Excerpt

No Life of Charles Dickens has been written since his collected letters were published by the Nonesuch Press in 1938. These letters not only provide new biographical material, but throw light on the difficult temperament of a writer who said of himself that his inventive faculty must be allowed to master his whole existence. Owing to his unusual pyschological make-up Charles Dickens has been the subject of several mutually contradictory appreciations. One biographer has seen in him a satirist and a woman-hater, another a man living his life in a trauma, another an exemplar of applied Christianity, another a neurotic and highly disagreeable sentimentalist, another a social reformer with a tendency towards Marxian views, while to the commonalty the mere name of Dickens conjures up the cosy fire. side, the joys of home, glowing hearts and Christmas largess.

Dickens was an adept in what he called laying his hand upon the time, and in doing this became the recognised exponent of the English character to Victorian England, and not to Victorian England only, but to the world. He revealed the masses to the classes in one country and the people of all lands understood what he had to say. In trite and truthful words Bagehot summed up the universality of his appeal:

The penetrating power of this remarkable genius among all classes at home is not inferior to its diffusive energy abroad. The phrase 'household book' has, when applied to the works of Mr. Dickens, a peculiar propriety. There is no contemporary English writer whose works are read so generally through the whole house, who can give pleasure to the servant as well as to the mistress, to the children as well as to the master.

Dickens was a purely instinctive writer and the creator of the democratic novel. He was the first novelist to give the common people of Europe the sentiment of a contagious democratic fraternity. Cor ad cor loquitur, for it is heart alone that can speak to heart.

The first and greatest book on Charles Dickens was written seventy years ago. John Forster, its author, apologised for making . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.