Portal:Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens FRSA (/ˈɑːrlz ˈdɪkɪnz/; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870), pen-name "Boz", was the foremost English novelist of the Victorian era, as well as a vigorous social campaigner. Considered one of the English language's greatest writers, he was acclaimed for his rich storytelling and memorable characters, and achieved massive worldwide popularity in his lifetime.

Later critics, beginning with George Gissing and G. K. Chesterton, championed his mastery of prose, his endless invention of memorable characters and his powerful social sensibilities, but fellow writers such as George Henry Lewes, Henry James and Virginia Woolf fault his work for sentimentality, implausible occurrence and grotesque characters.

The popularity of Dickens' novels and short stories has meant that not one has ever gone out of print. Dickens wrote serialised novels, the usual format for fiction at the time, and each new part of his stories was eagerly anticipated by the reading public.

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"Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough." "Come, then," returned the nephew gaily. "What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You're rich enough."
A Christmas Carol (1843)

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Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens, published in 20 monthly parts between March 1852 and September 1853. It is widely held to be one of Dickens' finest and most complete novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon. Dickens tells all of these both through the narrative of the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson, and as an omniscient narrator. Memorable characters include the menacing lawyer Tulkinghorn, the friendly but depressive John Jarndyce and the childish Harold Skimpole.

The plot concerns a long-running legal dispute (Jarndyce and Jarndyce) which has far-reaching consequences for all involved. Dickens' assault on the flaws of the British judiciary system is based in part on his own experiences as a law clerk. His harsh characterization of the slow, arcane Chancery law process gave voice to widespread frustration with the system, and is often thought of as helping to set the stage for its eventual reform in the 1870s. (more...)

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Bleak-house-broadstairs.jpg
Photo credit: Heron
Bleak House in Broadstairs, Kent, where Dickens wrote some of his novels.

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