√лавна€: јндреевска€ энциклопеди€
ƒиккенс, „арльз ƒжон ’афэм (1812Ц1870)
(по-англ. Dickens, Charles), английский прозаик. ёмористические нравоописательные Ђќчерки Ѕозаї (1836) посв€щены обитател€м различных слоев лондонского общества. ¬ сентиментальном романе Ђѕосмертные записки ѕиквикского клубаї (1837) (с наивным и трогательным эксцентричным героем) свойственные ƒиккенсу ирони€ и сатира побеждаютс€ своеобразным диккенсовским комизмом, обусловленным верой в доброе начало человека. ѕафосом сострадани€ к униженным (особенно к переживани€м детской души), непри€тием всех форм социальной несправедливости проникнуты авантюрно-приключенческие романы Ђѕриключени€ ќливера “вистаї (1838), ЂЌиколас Ќикльбиї (1839), Ђћартин „езлвитї (1844). —оциальный оптимизм ƒиккенса (романы ЂЋавка древностейї, 1841, Ђ–ождественские повестиї, 1843 - 46) вступал в противоречие с гротескно-реалистическим изображением губительной психологии собственничества и прагматизма: романы воспитани€ Ђƒомби и сынї (1848) и Ђƒавид опперфилдї (1850, с автобиографическими чертами), роман Ђ’олодный домї (1853). ƒетективный роман Ђ“айна Ёдвина ƒрудаї (1870). –ису€ драматическую картину жизни английского общества, ƒиккенс вносил в нее см€гчающие сказочно-сентиментальные оттенки (в том числе романы Ђ“€желые временаї, 1854, Ђ рошка ƒорритї, 1857). ќсновные нравственные коллизии романов ƒиккенса - столкновение бескорыстного, великодушного или беззащитного геро€ с миром эгоистических страстей и расчета, олицетвор€емым низким Ђзлодеемї или холодным рационалистом (иногда способным к нравственному преображению).
среди преступлений... наиболее т€жким €вл€етс€ не преследование авторов, не цензурные ограничени€ и т.п., не предание книг костру. —уществует преступление более т€жкое Ц пренебрежение книгами, их нечтение. «а преступление это человек расплачиваетc€ всей cвоей жизнью; если же это преступление совершает наци€ Ц она платит за это своей историей. я полагаю, что дл€ человека, начитавшегос€ ƒиккенса, выстрелить в себе подобного во им€ какой бы то ни было идеи затруднительней, чем дл€ человека, ƒиккенса не читавшего (». Ѕродский).
—сылки на тексты ƒ. јндреева
<ƒиккенс осуществл€л> пронизание искусства слова любовью к люд€м (2: 397).—сылки на статьи Ђјндреевской энциклопедииї
если ƒиккенс грешил тем-то и тем-то, мен€ это мало интересует: существенно, по-моему, то, что Ђѕиквикский клубї Ц книга такой чистоты, добра, такого изумительного отношени€ к люд€м, что автором ее мог быть только праведник (3.2: 181).
¬ Ђ–озе ћираї упоминаетс€ и главный персонаж этой замечательной книги м-р ѕикквик.
ќ нем [Ѕрандис, “агор, сквоз€щее мировоспри€тие (2: 80)].
Ѕиблиографи€ по „. ƒиккенсу
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Dickens, Charles John Huffam (1812Ц1870)
born Feb. 7, 1812, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Eng.
died June 9, 1870, Gad's Hill, near Chatham, Kent
English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era. His many volumes include such works as A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend.
Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity than had any previous author during his lifetime. Much in his work could appeal to simple and sophisticated, to the poor and to the Queen, and technological developments as well as the qualities of his work enabled his fame to spread worldwide very quickly. His long career saw fluctuations in the reception and sales of individual novels, but none of them was negligible or uncharacteristic or disregarded, and, though he is now admired for aspects and phases of his work that were given less weight by his contemporaries, his popularity has never ceased and his present critical standing is higher than ever before. The most abundantly comic of English authors, he was much more than a great entertainer. The range, compassion, and intelligence of his apprehension of his society and its shortcomings enriched his novels and made him both one of the great forces in 19th-century literature and an influential spokesman of the conscience of his age.
Dickens left Portsmouth in infancy. His happiest childhood years were spent in Chatham (1817Ц22), an area to which he often reverts in his fiction. From 1822 he lived in London, until, in 1860, he moved permanently to a country house, Gad's Hill, near Chatham. His origins were middle class, if of a newfound and precarious respectability; one grandfather had been a domestic servant, and the other an embezzler. His father, a clerk in the navy pay office, was well paid, but his extravagance and ineptitude often brought the family to financial embarrassment or disaster. (Some of his failings and his ebullience are dramatized in Mr. Micawber in the partly autobiographical David Copperfield.) In 1824 the family reached bottom. Charles, the eldest son, had been withdrawn from school and was now set to manual work in a factory, and his father went to prison for debt. These shocks deeply affected Charles. Though abhorring this brief descent into the working class, he began to gain that sympathetic knowledge of their life and privations that informed his writings. Also, the images of the prison and of the lost, oppressed, or bewildered child recur in many novels. Much else in his character and art stems from this period, including, as the 20th-century novelist Angus Wilson has argued, his later difficulty, as man and author, in understanding women: this may be traced to his bitter resentment against his mother, who had, he felt, failed disastrously at this time to appreciate his sufferings. She had wanted him to stay at work when his father's release from prison and an improvement in the family's fortunes made the boy's return to school possible. Happily the father's view prevailed.
His schooling, interrupted and unimpressive, ended at 15. He became a clerk in a solicitor's office, then a shorthand reporter in the lawcourts (thus gaining a knowledge of the legal world often used in the novels), and finally, like other members of his family, a parliamentary and newspaper reporter. These years left him with a lasting affection for journalism and contempt both for the law and for Parliament. His coming to manhood in the reformist 1830s, and particularly his working on the Liberal Benthamite Morning Chronicle (1834Ц36), greatly affected his political outlook. Another influential event now was his rejection as suitor to Maria Beadnell because his family and prospects were unsatisfactory; his hopes of gaining and chagrin at losing her sharpened his determination to succeed. His feelings about Maria then and at her later brief and disillusioning reentry into his life are reflected in David Copperfield's adoration of Dora Spenlow and in the middle-aged Arthur Clennam's discovery (in Little Dorrit) that Flora Finching, who had seemed enchanting years ago, was Уdiffuse and silly,Ф that Flora Уwhom he had left a lily, had become a peony.Ф
Beginning of literary career
Much drawn to the theatre, Dickens nearly became a professional actor in 1832. In 1833 he began contributing stories and descriptive essays to magazines and newspapers; these attracted attention and were reprinted as Sketches by УBozФ (February 1836). The same month, he was invited to provide a comic serial narrative to accompany engravings by a well-known artist; seven weeks later the first installment of Pickwick Papers appeared. Within a few months Pickwick was the rage and Dickens the most popular author of the day. During 1836 he also wrote two plays and a pamphlet on a topical issue (how the poor should be allowed to enjoy the Sabbath) and, resigning from his newspaper job, undertook to edit a monthly magazine, Bentley's Miscellany, in which he serialized Oliver Twist (1837Ц39). Thus, he had two serial installments to write every month. Already the first of his nine surviving children had been born; he had married (in April 1836) Catherine, eldest daughter of a respected Scottish journalist and man of letters, George Hogarth.
For several years his life continued at this intensity. Finding serialization congenial and profitable, he repeated the Pickwick pattern of 20 monthly parts in Nicholas Nickleby (1838Ц39); then he experimented with shorter weekly installments for The Old Curiosity Shop (1840Ц41) and Barnaby Rudge (1841). Exhausted at last, he then took a five-month vacation in America, touring strenuously and receiving quasi-royal honours as a literary celebrity but offending national sensibilities by protesting against the absence of copyright protection. A radical critic of British institutions, he had expected more from Уthe republic of my imagination,Ф but he found more vulgarity and sharp practice to detest than social arrangements to admire. Some of these feelings appear in American Notes (1842) and Martin Chuzzlewit (1843Ц44).
His writing during these prolific years was remarkably various and, except for his plays, resourceful. Pickwick began as high-spirited farce and contained many conventional comic butts and traditional jokes; like other early works, it was manifestly indebted to the contemporary theatre, the 18th-century English novelists, and a few foreign classics, notably Don Quixote. But, besides giving new life to old stereotypes, Pickwick displayed, if sometimes in embryo, many of the features that were to be blended in varying proportions throughout his fiction: attacks, satirical or denunciatory, on social evils and inadequate institutions; topical references; an encyclopaedic knowledge of London (always his predominant fictional locale); pathos; a vein of the macabre; a delight in the demotic joys of Christmas; a pervasive spirit of benevolence and geniality; inexhaustible powers of character creation; a wonderful ear for characteristic speech, often imaginatively heightened; a strong narrative impulse; and a prose style that, if here overdependent on a few comic mannerisms, was highly individual and inventive. Rapidly improvised and written only weeks or days ahead of its serial publication, Pickwick contains weak and jejune passages and is an unsatisfactory wholeЧpartly because Dickens was rapidly developing his craft as a novelist while writing and publishing it. What is remarkable is that a first novel, written in such circumstances, not only established him overnight and created a new tradition of popular literature but also survived, despite its crudities, as one of the best known novels in the world.
Oliver Twist and others
His self-assurance and artistic ambitiousness had appeared in Oliver Twist, where he rejected the temptation to repeat the successful Pickwick formula. Though containing much comedy still, Oliver Twist is more centrally concerned with social and moral evil (the workhouse and the criminal world); it culminates in Bill Sikes's murdering Nancy and Fagin's last night in the condemned cell at Newgate. The latter episode was memorably depicted in George Cruikshank's engraving; the imaginative potency of Dickens' characters and settings owes much, indeed, to his original illustrators (Cruikshank for Sketches by УBozФ and Oliver Twist, УPhizФ [Hablot K. Browne] for most of the other novels until the 1860s). The currency of his fiction owed much, too, to its being so easy to adapt into effective stage versions. Sometimes 20 London theatres simultaneously were producing adaptations of his latest story; so even nonreaders became acquainted with simplified versions of his works. The theatre was often a subject of his fiction, too, as in the Crummles troupe in Nicholas Nickleby. This novel reverted to the Pickwick shape and atmosphere, though the indictment of the brutal Yorkshire schools (Dotheboys Hall) continued the important innovation in English fiction seen in Oliver TwistЧthe spectacle of the lost or oppressed child as an occasion for pathos and social criticism. This was amplified in The Old Curiosity Shop, where the death of Little Nell was found overwhelmingly powerful at the time, though a few decades later it became a byword for УVictorian sentimentality.Ф In Barnaby Rudge he attempted another genre, the historical novel. Like his later attempt in this kind, A Tale of Two Cities, it was set in the late 18th century and presented with great vigour and understanding (and some ambivalence of attitude) the spectacle of large-scale mob violence.
To create an artistic unity out of the wide range of moods and materials included in every novel, with often several complicated plots involving scores of characters, was made even more difficult by Dickens' writing and publishing them serially. In Martin Chuzzlewit he tried Уto resist the temptation of the current Monthly Number, and to keep a steadier eye upon the general purpose and designФ (1844 Preface). Its American episodes had, however, been unpremeditated (he suddenly decided to boost the disappointing sales by some America-baiting and to revenge himself against insults and injuries from the American press). A concentration on Уthe general purpose and designФ was more effective in the next novel, Dombey and Son (1846Ц48), though the experience of writing the shorter, and unserialized, Christmas books had helped him obtain greater coherence.
A Christmas Carol, suddenly conceived and written in a few weeks, was the first of these Christmas books (a new literary genre thus created incidentally). Tossed off while he was amply engaged in writing Chuzzlewit, it was an extraordinary achievementЧthe one great Christmas myth of modern literature. His view of life was later to be described or dismissed as УChristmas philosophy,Ф and he himself spoke of УCarol philosophyФ as the basis of a projected work. His Уphilosophy,Ф never very elaborated, involved more than wanting the Christmas spirit to prevail throughout the year, but his great attachment to Christmas (in his family life as well as his writings) is indeed significant and has contributed to his popularity. УDickens dead?Ф exclaimed a London costermonger's girl in 1870. УThen will Father Christmas die too?ФЧa tribute both to his association with Christmas and to the mythological status of the man as well as of his work. The Carol immediately entered the general consciousness; Thackeray, in a review, called it Уa national benefit, and to every man and woman who reads it a personal kindness.Ф Further Christmas books, essays, and stories followed annually (except in 1847) through 1867. None equalled the Carol in potency, though some achieved great immediate popularity. Cumulatively they represent a celebration of Christmas attempted by no other great author.
How he struck his contemporaries in these early years appears in R.H. Horne's New Spirit of the Age (1844). Dickens occupied the first and longest chapter, as
. . . manifestly the product of his age . . . a genuine emanation from its aggregate and entire spirit. . . . He mixes extensively in society, and continually. Few public meetings in a benevolent cause are without him. He speaks effectively. . . . His influence upon his age is extensiveЧpleasurable, instructive, healthy, reformatory. . . .
Mr. Dickens is, in private, very much what might be expected from his works. . . . His conversation is genial . . . [He] has singular personal activity, and is fond of games of practical skill. He is also a great walker, and very much given to dancing Sir Roger de Coverley. In private, the general impression of him is that of a first-rate practical intellect, with Уno nonsenseФ about him.
He was indeed very much a public figure, actively and centrally involved in his world, and a man of confident presence. He was reckoned the best after-dinner speaker of the age; other superlatives he attracted included his having been the best shorthand reporter on the London press and his being the best amateur actor on the stage. Later he became one of the most successful periodical editors and the finest dramatic recitalist of the day. He was splendidly endowed with many skills. УEven irrespective of his literary genius,Ф wrote an obituarist, Уhe was an able and strong-minded man, who would have succeeded in almost any profession to which he devoted himself Ф (Times, June 10, 1870). Few of his extraliterary skills and interests were irrelevant to the range and mode of his fiction.
Privately in these early years, he was both domestic and social. He loved home and family life and was a proud and efficient householder; he once contemplated writing a cookbook. To his many children, he was a devoted and delightful father, at least while they were young; relations with them proved less happy during their adolescence. Apart from periods in Italy (1844Ц45) and Switzerland and France (1846Ц47), he still lived in London, moving from an apartment in Furnival's Inn to larger houses as his income and family grew. Here he entertained his many friends, most of them popular authors, journalists, actors, or artists, though some came from the law and other professions or from commerce and a few from the aristocracy. Some friendships dating from his youth endured to the end, and, though often exasperated by the financial demands of his parents and other relatives, he was very fond of some of his family and loyal to most of the rest. Some literary squabbles came later, but he was on friendly terms with most of his fellow authors, of the older generation as well as his own. Necessarily solitary while writing and during the long walks (especially through the streets at night) that became essential to his creative processes, he was generally social at other times. He enjoyed society that was unpretentious and conversation that was genial and sensible but not too intellectualized or exclusively literary. High society he generally avoided, after a few early incursions into the great houses; he hated to be lionized or patronized.
He had about him Уa sort of swell and overflow as of a prodigality of life,Ф an American journalist said. Everyone was struck by the brilliance of his eyes and his smart, even dandyish, appearance (УI have the fondness of a savage for finery,Ф he confessed). John Forster, his intimate friend and future biographer, recalled him at the Pickwick period:
the quickness, keenness, and practical power, the eager, restless, energetic outlook on each several feature [of his face] seemed to tell so little of a student or writer of books, and so much of a man of action and business in the world. Light and motion flashed from every part of it.
He was proud of his art and devoted to improving it and using it to good ends (his works would show, he wrote, that УCheap Literature is not behind-hand with the Age, but holds its place, and strives to do its dutyФ), but his art never engaged all his formidable energies. He had no desire to be narrowly literary.
A notable, though unsuccessful, demonstration of this was his being founder-editor in 1846 of the Daily News (soon to become the leading Liberal newspaper). His journalistic origins, his political convictions and readiness to act as a leader of opinion, and his wish to secure a steady income independent of his literary creativity and of any shifts in novel readers' tastes made him attempt or plan several periodical ventures in the 1840s. The return to daily journalism soon proved a mistakeЧthe biggest fiasco in a career that included few such misdirections or failures. A more limited but happier exercise of his practical talents began soon afterward: for more than a decade he directed, energetically and with great insight and compassion, a reformatory home for young female delinquents, financed by his wealthy friend Angela Burdett-Coutts. The benevolent spirit apparent in his writings often found practical expression in his public speeches, fund-raising activities, and private acts of charity.
Dombey and Son (1846Ц48) was a crucial novel in his development, a product of more thorough planning and maturer thought and the first in which Уa pervasive uneasiness about contemporary society takes the place of an intermittent concern with specific social wrongsФ (Kathleen Tillotson). Using railways prominently and effectively, it was very up-to-date, though the questions posed included such perennial moral and religious challenges as are suggested by the child Paul's first words in the story: УPapa, what's money?Ф Some of the corruptions of money and pride of place and the limitations of УrespectableФ values are explored, virtue and human decency being discovered most often (as elsewhere in Dickens) among the poor, humble, and simple. In Paul's early death Dickens offered another famous pathetic episode; in Mr. Dombey he made a more ambitious attempt than before at serious and internal characterization. David Copperfield (1849Ц50) has been described as a УholidayФ from these larger social concerns and most notable for its childhood chapters, Уan enchanting vein which he had never quite found before and which he was never to find againФ (Edmund Wilson). Largely for this reason and for its autobiographical interest, it has always been among his most popular novels and was Dickens' own Уfavourite child.Ф It incorporates material from the autobiography he had recently begun but soon abandoned and is written in the first person, a new technique for him. David differs from his creator in many ways, however, though Dickens uses many early experiences that had meant much to himЧhis period of work in the factory while his father was jailed, his schooling and reading, his passion for Maria Beadnell, and (more cursorily) his emergence from parliamentary reporting into successful novel writing. In Micawber the novel presents one of the УDickens charactersФ whose imaginative potency extends far beyond the narratives in which they figure; Pickwick and Sam Weller, Mrs. Gamp and Mr. Pecksniff, and Scrooge are some others.
Dickens' journalistic ambitions at last found a permanent form in Household Words (1850Ц59) and its successor, All the Year Round (1859Ц88). Popular weekly miscellanies of fiction, poetry, and essays on a wide range of topics, these had substantial and increasing circulations, reaching 300,000 for some of the Christmas numbers. Dickens contributed some serialsЧthe lamentable Child's History of England (1851Ц53), Hard Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and Great Expectations (1860Ц61)Чand essays, some of which were collected in Reprinted Pieces (1858) and The Uncommercial Traveller (1861, later amplified). Particularly in 1850Ц52 and during the Crimean War, he contributed many items on current political and social affairs; in later years he wrote lessЧmuch less on politicsЧand the magazine was less political, too. Other distinguished novelists contributed serials, including Mrs. Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, Charles Reade, and Bulwer Lytton. The poetry was uniformly feeble; Dickens was imperceptive here. The reportage, often solidly based, was bright (sometimes painfully so) in manner. His conduct of these weeklies shows his many skills as editor and journalist but also some limitations in his tastes and intellectual ambitions. The contents are revealing in relation to his novels: he took responsibility for all the opinions expressed (for articles were anonymous) and selected and amended contributions accordingly; thus comments on topical events and so on may generally be taken as representing his opinions, whether or not he wrote them. No English author of comparable status has devoted 20 years of his maturity to such unremitting editorial work, and the weeklies' success was due not only to his illustrious name but also to his practical sagacity and sustained industry. Even in his creative work, as his eldest son said,
No city clerk was ever more methodical or orderly than he; no humdrum, monotonous, conventional task could ever have been discharged with more punctuality, or with more businesslike regularity.
The novels of these years, Bleak House (1852Ц53), Hard Times (1854), and Little Dorrit (1855Ц57), were much УdarkerФ than their predecessors. Presenting a remarkably inclusive and increasingly sombre picture of contemporary society, they were inevitably often seen at the time as fictionalized propaganda about ephemeral issues. They are much more than this, though it is never easy to state how Dickens' imagination transforms their many topicalities into an artistically coherent vision that transcends their immediate historical context. Similar questions are raised by his often basing fictional characters, places, and institutions on actual originals. He once spoke of his mind's taking Уa fanciful photographФ of a scene, and there is a continual interplay between photographic realism and УfancyФ (or imagination). УHe describes London like a special correspondent for posterityФ (Walter Bagehot, 1858), and posterity has certainly found in his fiction the response of an acute, knowledgeable, and concerned observer to the social and political developments of Уthe moving age.Ф In the novels of the 1850s, he is politically more despondent, emotionally more tragic. The satire is harsher, the humour less genial and abundant, the Уhappy endingsФ more subdued than in the early fiction. Technically, the later novels are more coherent, plots being more fully related to themes, and themes being often expressed through a more insistent use of imagery and symbols (grim symbols, too, such as the fog in Bleak House or the prison in Little Dorrit). His art here is more akin to poetry than to what is suggested by the photographic or journalistic comparisons. УDickensianФ characterization continues in the sharply defined and simplified grotesque or comic figures, such as Chadband in Bleak House or Mrs. Sparsit in Hard Times, but large-scale figures of this type are less frequent (the Gamps and Micawbers belong to the first half of his career). Characterization also has become more subordinate to Уthe general purpose and designФ; moreover, Dickens is presenting characters of greater complexity, who provoke more complex responses in the reader (William Dorrit, for instance). Even the juvenile leads, who had usually been thinly conceived conventional figures, are now often more complicated in their make-up and less easily rewarded by good fortune. With his secular hopes diminishing, Dickens becomes more concerned with Уthe great final secret of all lifeФЧa phrase from Little Dorrit, where the spiritual dimension of his work is most overt. Critics disagree as to how far so worldly a novelist succeeds artistically in enlarging his view to include the religious. These novels, too, being manifestly an ambitious attempt to explore the prospects of humanity at this time, raise questions, still much debated, about the intelligence and profundity of his understanding of society.
Dickens' spirits and confidence in the future had indeed declined: 1855 was Уa year of much unsettled discontent for him,Ф his friend Forster recalled, partly for political reasons (or, as Forster hints, his political indignation was exacerbated by a УdiscontentФ that had personal origins). The Crimean War, besides exposing governmental inefficiency, was distracting attention from the Уpoverty, hunger, and ignorant desperationФ at home. In Little Dorrit, УI have been blowing off a little of indignant steam which would otherwise blow me up . . . ,Ф he wrote, Уbut I have no present political faith or hopeЧnot a grain.Ф Not only were the present government and Parliament contemptible but Уrepresentative government is become altogether a failure with us, . . . the whole thing has broken down . . . and has no hope in it.Ф Nor had he a coherent alternative to suggest. This desperation coincided with an acute state of personal unhappiness. The brief tragicomedy of Maria Beadnell's reentry into his life, in 1855, finally destroyed one nostalgic illusion and also betrayed a perilous emotional immaturity and hunger. He now openly identified himself with some of the sorrows dramatized in the adult David Copperfield:
Why is it, that as with poor David, a sense comes always crushing on me, now, when I fall into low spirits, as of one happiness I have missed in life, and one friend and companion I have never made?
This comes from the correspondence with Forster in 1854Ц55, which contains the first admissions of his marital unhappiness; by 1856 he is writing, УI find the skeleton in my domestic closet is becoming a pretty big oneФ; by 1857Ц58, as Forster remarks, an Уunsettled feelingФ had become almost habitual with him, Уand the satisfactions which home should have supplied, and which indeed were essential requirements of his nature, he had failed to find in his home.Ф From May 1858, Catherine Dickens lived apart from him. A painful scandal arose, and Dickens did not act at this time with tact, patience, or consideration. The affair disrupted some of his friendships and narrowed his social circle, but surprisingly it seems not to have damaged his popularity with the public.
Catherine Dickens maintained a dignified silence, and most of Dickens' family and friends, including his official biographer, Forster, were discreetly reticent about the separation. Not until 1939 did one of his children (Katey), speaking posthumously through conversations recorded by a friend, offer a candid inside account. It was discreditable to him, and his self-justifying letters must be viewed with caution. He there dated the unhappiness of his marriage back to 1838, attributed to his wife various УpeculiaritiesФ of temperament (including her sometimes labouring under Уa mental disorderФ), emphatically agreed with her (alleged) statement that Уshe felt herself unfit for the life she had to lead as my wife,Ф and maintained that she never cared for the children nor they for her. In more temperate letters, where he acknowledged her Уamiable and complyingФ qualities, he simply and more acceptably asserted that their temperaments were utterly incompatible. She was, apparently, pleasant but rather limited; such faults as she had were rather negative than positive, though family tradition from a household that knew the Dickenses well speaks of her as Уa whiney womanФ and as having little understanding of, or patience with, the artistic temperament.
Dickens' self-justifying letters lack candour in omitting to mention Ellen Ternan, an actress 27 years his junior, his passion for whom had precipitated the separation. Two months earlier he had written more frankly to an intimate friend:
The domestic unhappiness remains so strong upon me that I can't write, and (waking) can't rest, one minute. I have never known a moment's peace or content, since the last night of The Frozen Deep.
The Frozen Deep was a play in which he and Nelly (as Ellen was called) had performed together in August 1857. She was an intelligent girl, of an old theatrical family; reports speak of her as having Уa pretty face and well-developed figureФЧor Уpassably pretty and not much of an actress.Ф She left the stage in 1860; after Dickens' death she married a clergyman and helped him run a school. The affair was hushed up until the 1930s, and evidence about it remains scanty, but every addition confirms that Dickens was deeply attached to her and that their relationship lasted until his death. It seems likely that she became his mistress, though probably not until the 1860s; assertions that a child, or children, resulted remain unproved. Similarly, suggestions that the anguish experienced by some of the lovers in the later novels may reflect Dickens' own feelings remain speculative. It is tempting, indeed, to associate Nelly with some of their heroines (who are more spirited and complex, less of the Уlegless angel,Ф than most of their predecessors), especially as her given names, Ellen Lawless, seem to be echoed by those of heroines in the three final novelsЧEstella, Bella, and Helena LandlessЧbut nothing definite is known about how she responded to Dickens, what she felt for him at the time, or how close any of these later love stories were to aspects or phases of their relationship.
УThere is nothing very remarkable in the story,Ф commented one early transmitter of it, and this seems just. Many middle-aged men feel an itch to renew their emotional lives with a pretty young girl, even if, unlike Dickens, they cannot plead indulgence for Уthe wayward and unsettled feeling which is part (I suppose) of the tenure on which one holds an imaginative life.Ф But the eventual disclosure of this episode caused surprise, shock, or piquant satisfaction, being related of a man whose rebelliousness against his society had seemed to take only impeccably reformist shapes. A critic in 1851, listing the reasons for his unique popularity, had cited Уabove all, his deep reverence for the household sanctities, his enthusiastic worship of the household gods.Ф After these disclosures he was, disconcertingly or intriguingly, a more complex man; and, partly as a consequence, Dickens the novelist also began to be seen as more complex, less conventional, than had been realized. The stimulus was important, though Nelly's significance, biographically and critically, has proved far from inexhaustible.
In the longer term, Kathleen Tillotson's remark is more suggestive: Уhis lifelong love-affair with his reading public, when all is said, is by far the most interesting love-affair of his life.Ф This took a new form, about the time of Dickens' separation from his wife, in his giving public readings from his works, and it is significant that, when trying to justify this enterprise as certain to succeed, he referred to Уthat particular relation (personally affectionate and like no other man's) which subsists between me and the public.Ф The remark suggests how much Dickens valued his public's affection, not only as a stimulus to his creativity and a condition for his commercial success but also as a substitute for the love he could not find at home. He had been toying with the idea of turning paid reader since 1853, when he began giving occasional readings in aid of charity. The paid series began in April 1858, the immediate impulse being to find some energetic distraction from his marital unhappiness. But the readings drew on more permanent elements in him and his art: his remarkable histrionic talents, his love of theatricals and of seeing and delighting an audience, and the eminently performable nature of his fiction. Moreover, he could earn more by reading than by writing, and more certainly; it was easier to force himself to repeat a performance than create a book.
His initial repertoire consisted entirely of Christmas books but was soon amplified by episodes from the novels and magazine Christmas stories. A performance usually consisted of two items; of the 16 eventually performed, the most popular were УThe Trial from PickwickФ and the Carol. Comedy predominated, though pathos was important in the repertoire, and horrifics were startlingly introduced in the last reading he devised, УSikes and Nancy,Ф with which he petrified his audiences and half killed himself. Intermittently, until shortly before his death, he gave seasons of readings in London and embarked upon hardworking tours through the provinces and (in 1867Ц68) the United States. Altogether he performed about 471 times. He was a magnificent performer, and important elements in his artЧthe oral and dramatic qualitiesЧwere demonstrated in these renderings. His insight and skill revealed nuances in the narration and characterization that few readers had noticed. Necessarily, such extracts or short stories, suitable for a two-hour entertainment, excluded some of his larger and deeper effectsЧnotably, his social criticism and analysisЧand his later novels were underrepresented. Dickens never mentions these inadequacies. He manifestly enjoyed the experience until, near the end, he was becoming ill and exhausted. He was writing much less in the 1860s. It is debatable how far this was because the readings exhausted his energies, while providing the income, creative satisfaction, and continuous contact with an audience that he had formerly obtained through the novels. He gloried in his audiences' admiration and love. Some friends thought this too crude a gratification, too easy a triumph, and a sad declension into a lesser and ephemeral art. In whatever way the episode is judged, it was characteristic of himЧof his relationship with his public, his business sense, his stamina, his ostentatious display of supplementary skills, and also of his originality. No important author (at least, according to reviewers, since Homer) and no English author since who has had anything like his stature has devoted so much time and energy to this activity. The only comparable figure is his contemporary, Mark Twain, who acknowledged Dickens as the pioneer.
Tired and ailing though he was, he remained inventive and adventurous in his final novels. A Tale of Two Cities (1859) was an experiment, relying less than before on characterization, dialogue, and humour. An exciting and compact narrative, it lacks too many of his strengths to count among his major works. Sydney Carton's self-sacrifice was found deeply moving by Dickens and by many readers; Dr. Manette now seems a more impressive achievement in serious characterization. The French Revolution scenes are vivid, if superficial in historical understanding. Great Expectations (1860Ц61) resembles Copperfield in being a first-person narration and in drawing on parts of Dickens' personality and experience. Compact like its predecessor, it lacks the panoramic inclusiveness of Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Our Mutual Friend, but, though not his most ambitious, it is his most finely achieved novel. The hero Pip's mind is explored with great subtlety, and his development through a childhood and youth beset with hard tests of character is traced critically but sympathetically. Various Уgreat expectationsФ in the book proved ill foundedЧa comment as much on the values of the age as on the characters' weaknesses and misfortunes. Our Mutual Friend (1864Ц65), a large inclusive novel, continues this critique of monetary and class values. London is now grimmer than ever before, and the corruption, complacency, and superficiality of УrespectableФ society are fiercely attacked. Many new elements are introduced into Dickens' fictional world, but his handling of the old comic-eccentrics (such as Boffin, Wegg, and Venus) is sometimes tiresomely mechanical. How the unfinished Edwin Drood (1870) would have developed is uncertain. Here again Dickens left panoramic fiction to concentrate on a limited private action. The central figure was evidently to be John Jasper, whose eminent respectability as a cathedral organist was in extreme contrast to his haunting low opium dens and, out of violent sexual jealousy, murdering his nephew. It would have been his most elaborate treatment of the themes of crime, evil, and psychological abnormality that had recurred throughout his novels; a great celebrator of life, he was also obsessed with death.
How greatly Dickens personally had changed appears in remarks by friends who met him again, after many years, during the American reading tour in 1867Ц68. УI sometimes think . . . ,Ф wrote one, УI must have known two individuals bearing the same name, at various periods of my own life.Ф But just as the fiction, despite many developments, still contained many stylistic and narrative features continuous with the earlier work, so, too, the man remained a Уhuman hurricane,Ф though he had aged considerably, his health had deteriorated, and his nerves had been jangled by travelling ever since his being in a railway accident in 1865. Other Americans noted that, though grizzled, he was Уas quick and elastic in his movements as ever.Ф His photographs, wrote a journalist after one of the readings, Уgive no idea of his genial expression. To us he appears like a hearty, companionable man, with a deal of fun in him.Ф But that very day Dickens was writing, УI am nearly used up,Ф and listing the afflictions now Уtelling heavily upon me.Ф His pride and the old-trouper tradition made him conceal his sufferings. And, if sometimes by an effort of will, his old high spirits were often on display. УThe cheerfullest man of his age,Ф he was called by his American publisher, J.T. Fields; Fields's wife more perceptively noted, УWonderful, the flow of spirits C.D. has for a sad man.Ф
His fame remained undiminished, though critical opinion was increasingly hostile to him. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, noting the immense enthusiasm for him during the American tour, remarked: УOne can hardly take in the whole truth about it, and feel the universality of his fame.Ф But in many respects he was Уa sad manФ in these later years. He never was tranquil or relaxed. Various old friends were now estranged or dead or for other reasons less available; he was now leading a less social life and spending more time with young friends of a calibre inferior to his former circle. His sons were causing much worry and disappointment; Уall his fame goes for nothing,Ф said a friend, Уsince he has not the one thing. He is very unhappy in his children.Ф His life was not all dreary, however. He loved his country house, Gad's Hill, and he could still Уwarm the social atmosphere wherever he appeared with that summer glow which seemed to attend him.Ф T.A. Trollope (contributor to Dickens' All the Year Round and brother of the novelist Anthony Trollope), who wrote that, despaired of giving people who had not met him any idea of
the general charm of his manner. . . . His laugh was brimful of enjoyment. . . . His enthusiasm was boundless. . . . He was a hearty man, a large-hearted man, . . . a strikingly manly man.
His health remained precarious after the punishing American tour and was further impaired by his addiction to giving the strenuous УSikes and NancyФ reading. His farewell reading tour was abandoned when, in April 1869, he collapsed. He began writing another novel and gave a short farewell season of readings in London, ending with the famous speech, УFrom these garish lights I vanish now for evermore . . .ФЧwords repeated, less than three months later, on his funeral card. He died suddenly in June 1870 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, attending one of Dickens' readings in Boston, Уlaughed as if he must crumble to pieces,Ф but, discussing Dickens afterward, he said:
I am afraid he has too much talent for his genius; it is a fearful locomotive to which he is bound and can never be free from it nor set to rest. . . . He daunts me! I have not the key.
There is no simple key to so prolific and multifarious an artist nor to the complexities of the man, and interpretation of both is made harder by his possessing and feeling the need to exercise so many talents besides his imagination. How his fiction is related to these talentsЧpractical, journalistic, oratorical, histrionicЧremains controversial. Also the geniality and unequalled comedy of the novels must be related to the sufferings, errors, and self-pity of their author and to his concern both for social evils and for the perennial griefs and limitations of humanity. The novels cover a wide range, social, moral, emotional, and psychological. Thus, he is much concerned with very ordinary people but also with abnormality (e.g., eccentricity, depravity, madness, hallucinations, dream states). He is both the most imaginative and fantastic and the most topical and documentary of great novelists. He is unequal, too; a wonderfully inventive and poetic writer, he can also, even in his mature novels, write with a painfully slack conventionality.
Biographers have only since the mid-20th century known enough to explore the complexity of Dickens' nature. Critics have always been challenged by his art, though from the start it contained enough easily acceptable ingredients, evident skill and gusto, to ensure popularity. The earlier novels were and by and large have continued to be Dickens' most popular works: The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Martin Chuzzlewit, A Christmas Carol, and David Copperfield. Critics began to demur against the later novels, deploring the loss of the freer comic spirit, baffled by the more symbolic mode of his art, and uneasy when the simpler reformism over isolated issues became a more radical questioning of social assumptions and institutions. Dickens was never neglected or forgotten and never lost his popularity, but for 70 years after his death he received remarkably little serious attention (George Gissing, G.K. Chesterton, and George Bernard Shaw being notable exceptions). F.R. Leavis, later to revise his opinion, was speaking for many, in 1948, when he asserted that Уthe adult mind doesn't as a rule find in Dickens a challenge to an unusual and sustained seriousnessФ; Dickens was indeed a great genius, Уbut the genius was that of a great entertainer.Ф
Modern Dickens criticism dates from 1940Ц41, with the very different impulses given by George Orwell, Edmund Wilson, and Humphry House. In the 1950s, a substantial reassessment and re-editing of the works began, his finest artistry and greatest depth now being discovered in the later novelsЧBleak House, Little Dorrit, and Great ExpectationsЧand (less unanimously) in Hard Times and Our Mutual Friend. Scholars have explored his working methods, his relations with his public, and the ways in which he was simultaneously an eminently Victorian figure and an author Уnot of an age but for all time.Ф Biographically, little had been added to Forster's massive and intelligent Life (1872Ц74), except the Ellen Ternan story, until Edgar Johnson's in 1952. Since then, no radically new view has emerged, though several worksЧincluding those by Joseph Gold (1972) and Fred Kaplan (1975)Чhave given particular phases or aspects fuller attention. The centenary in 1970 demonstrated a critical consensus about his standing second only to William Shakespeare in English literature, which would have seemed incredible 40 or even 20 years earlier.
Philip Collins // Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010.
A bibliography on Ch. Dickens
The Pickwick Papers (1837); Oliver Twist (1838); Nicholas Nickleby (1839); The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge (1841), two novels first published in a Уclock framework,Ф later abandoned, under the title of Master Humphrey's Clock; Martin Chuzzlewit (1844); Dombey and Son (1848); David Copperfield (1850); Bleak House (1853); Hard Times (1854); Little Dorrit (1857); A Tale of Two Cities (1859); Great Expectations (1861); Our Mutual Friend (1865); The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870, unfinished).
A Christmas Carol (1843); The Chimes (1845, for 1844); The Cricket on the Hearth (1846, for 1845); The Battle of Life (1846); The Haunted Man (1848).
Stories (Christmas stories)
The volume entitled Christmas Stories in collected editions includes УA Christmas TreeФ (1850); УWhat Christmas Is as We Grow OlderФ (1851); УThe Poor Relation's StoryФ (1852); УNobody's StoryФ (1853); УThe Seven Poor TravellersФ (1854); УThe Holly-Tree,Ф sometimes called УThe Holly-Tree InnФ (1855); УThe Wreck of the Golden MaryФ (1856); УThe Perils of Certain English PrisonersФ (1857); УGoing into SocietyФ (1858); УThe Haunted HouseФ (1859); УA Message from the SeaФ (1860); УTom Tiddler's GroundФ (1861); УSomebody's LuggageФ (1862); УMrs. Lirriper's LodgingsФ (1863); УMrs. Lirriper's LegacyФ (1864); УDoctor MarigoldФ (1865); УMugby JunctionФ (1866); УNo ThoroughfareФ (1867). (other Stories): in collected editions generally appended to the volume entitled Reprinted Pieces, [УThe LamplighterФ (1841);] УTo Be Read at DuskФ (1852); УHunted DownФ (1859); УGeorge Silverman's ExplanationФ (1867); УHoliday RomanceФ (1868; children's story in 4 parts; pt. 2, УThe Magic Fishbone,Ф often reprinted separately).
Sketches by УBoz,Ф 2 series (1836, together, 1839, included Dickens' first published work, УA Dinner at Poplar Walk,Ф 1833); Sketches of Young Gentlemen (1838) and Sketches of Young Couples (1840), both usually appended to the Sketches by УBozФ volume, in collected editions, which also usually contains УThe Mudfog PapersФ (contributed to Bentley's Miscellany, 1837Ц38); American Notes (1842); Pictures from Italy (1846); The Life of Our Lord (completed 1849, for his children; published 1934); A Child's History of England (1852Ц54); УThe Lazy Tour of Two Idle ApprenticesФ (with Wilkie Collins, contributed to Household Words ; often included in the volume entitled Christmas Stories); Reprinted Pieces (1858; contributed to Household Words, 1850Ц56); The Uncommercial Traveller (1861, amplified 1868, 1875; contributed to All the Year Round, 1860Ц69); Plays and Poems, ed. by R.H. Shepherd (1885); Miscellaneous Papers, ed. by B.W. Matz (1908; the most substantial posthumous collection, mainly essays contributed to Household Words, 1850Ц59; 16 further items, in the volume retitled Collected Papers, in The Nonesuch Dickens, 1937); Uncollected Writings from Household Words 1850Ц1859, ed. by Harry Stone (1968).
K.J. Fielding, Charles Dickens (1953); Ada Nisbet, УCharles Dickens,Ф in Lionel Stevenson (ed.), Victorian Fiction: A Guide to Research, pp. 44Ц153 (1964, reprinted 1980), a full discussion of materials for Dickens studies and of writings about him in many languages, through 1962; Victorian Fiction: A Second Guide to Research, ed. by George H. Ford, pp. 34Ц113 (1978), covering 1963Ц74. See also Philip Collins, A Dickens Bibliography (1970), offprinted from George Watson (ed.), New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, vol. 3, col. 779Ц850 (1969). Reginald C. Churchill (comp.), Bibliography of Dickensian Criticism: 1836Ц1974 (1975), a selective, partly annotated bibliography.
Most of the manuscripts and proof sheets of the novels are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Other important collections of manuscripts and letters are in Dickens House, London; the British Museum; New York Public Library; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City; Free Library of Philadelphia; Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California; the University of Texas Libraries; and Yale University Library. The Dickens Fellowship (Dickens House, London) has branches all over the world and publishes the Dickensian (thrice yearly). Dickens Studies Newsletter (quarterly) and Dickens Studies Annual are published from Carbondale, Illinois, where the Dickens Society is based.
The New Oxford Illustrated Dickens (1947Ц58); and the Clarendon edition, begun in 1966. See also Speeches, ed. by K.J. Fielding (1960); and Public Readings, ed. by Philip Collins (1975).
The most complete collection, The Letters of Charles Dickens, ed. by Walter Dexter, 3 vol. (1938), is superseded by The Letters of Charles Dickens, ed. by Madeline House et al., begun in 1965. See also The Heart of Charles Dickens, As Revealed in His Letters to Angela Burdett-Coutts, ed. by Edgar Johnson (1952, reprinted 1976).
John Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens, 3 vol. (1872Ц74), remains indispensable; though Edgar Johnson, Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph, 2 vol. (1952, reprinted 1965), supersedes it. Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie, Dickens (1979), is a popular biography; Philip Collins (ed.), Dickens, 2 vol. (1981), contains interviews with and recollections of people who knew him; Fred Kaplan, Dickens and Mesmerism (1975), relates his interest in hypnotism to concerns expressed in his novels; Joseph Gold, Charles Dickens: Radical Moralist (1972), is a discussion of his ethical beliefs.
Carlisle, F. The sense of an audience: Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot at mid-century. Ц Brighton, 1982.
Dyson, A.E. Bleak house: A casebook. Ц London, 1969.
Hardy, B. Charles Dickens: the later novels. Ц London, 1968.
Leavis, F.R.; Leavis, Q.D. Dickens the novelist. Ц London, 1970.
Newsom, R. Dickens on the romantic side of familiar things: Bleak House and the novel tradition. Ц New York, 1977.
Thurley, G. The Dickens myth: it's genesis and structure. Ц London, 1976.
Vogel, F. Allegory in Dickens. Ц Alabama, 1977.
Westburg, B. The confessional fictions of Charles Dickens. Ц Dekalb (Ill.), 1977.
George R. Gissing, Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1898, reissued 1976); G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens (1903, reprinted 1977); George Orwell, УDickens,Ф in Critical Essays, pp. 7Ц56 (1946); Edmund Wilson, УDickens: The Two Scrooges,Ф in The Wound and the Bow, pp. 1Ц104 (1941); Humphry House, The Dickens World, 2nd ed. (1942, reissued 1971), an excellent discussion of Dickens and his age; George H. Ford, Dickens and His Readers (1955, reprinted 1974); John E. Butt and Kathleen Tillotson, Dickens at Work (1957, reprinted 1982); J. Hillis Miller, Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels (1958, reissued 1969), a highly influential critical study; Philip Collins, Dickens and Crime (1962); Robert Garis, The Dickens Theatre (1965); Angus Wilson, The World of Charles Dickens (1970); and Frank R. and Q.D. Leavis, Dickens, the Novelist (1970, reissued 1979).
Anthologies of Dickens criticism
George H. Ford and L. Lane (eds.), The Dickens Critics (1961, reprinted 1976); Stephen Wall (ed.), Charles Dickens: A Critical Anthology (1970); and Philip Collins (ed.), Dickens, the Critical Heritage (1971), on his critical reception in 1836Ц82.
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