The Dickensian Year

Why Charles Dickens speaks to us now

On Charles Dickens’s 200th anniversary, Philip Womack celebrates his great novels

Today there is no escaping Charles Dickens. Not that there has ever been much chance of that before. He has a deep, peculiar hold upon us. His contemporaries (Thackeray, Trollope, Meredith) shiver in Dickens’s vast shadow, denied the T-shirts and tea-towels showered on the man who wrote Oliver Twist.

Dickens’s books are forever metamorphosing into plays, films, musicals; his  characters have permeated the collective imagination. His reputation as a   craftsman, as opposed to a hack, has slowly expanded, as critics have begun to appreciate the fictional ground he broke. His influence is paramount. Mervyn Peake wouldn’t exist without him, nor Iris Murdoch. Any novel today that has an ensemble cast and concerns itself with social matters is labelled “Dickensian”.

There are many reasons for this. He, more than any other author, stands firmly entrenched in the lineage of English writing. He stretches back into the   storehouse of the canon, drawing on the Bible and Bunyan for his morals and absolutes, reaching into Shakespeare for those bumptious personages like   Pecksniff and Micawber. He is part of the genetic coding of the way that we think about books.

Read complete article @ The Telegraph

~ by eneryvibes on 1,February 15, 2012.

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