Probably this can not be true, but it seems true. Every time I think of Charles Dickens for any concerted reason, I am instantly reminded of one of my former Professors, now deceased. He was from Wales and taught British Literature. I hear his voice, acute with precision and mellifluous with accent, saying the name "Gradgrind". I belive he was being both dismissive and full of awe. "Gradgrind" , Thomas, "...ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what it comes to." From Hard Times.
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Charles Dickens, 1843.
Read Dickens Now!Two new biographies are a reminder of Dickens’s vast social imagination.
Dickens! Should’st be living at this hour and should’st be writing for Slate and publishing fiction online. The world needs vivid laughter, wider vision. Even just to recall the names of characters—Smike, Scrooge, Guppy, Copperfield, Nell—is to wake to lost possibilities of what novels can reach and do. All our talk of the middle class these days is fine, but Dickens knew the higher and the lower, the much lower: the mudlark, the wasting orphan, the prison child, the crossing sweeper, the dun, the dustman, the shabby clerk, the street philosopher. He knew the textures of their everyday lives, their talk, their walk, and the urban abyss yawning near.
He turns 200 in February (party at my house, everyone invited), which is one good explanation for two new biographies appearing just in time. But it will be good for all of us to stage his cell-break from “Classics” and to let him be where he belongs, always on the reading shelf marked “The Way We Live Now.” Think back to the three-and-a-half decades of the career, from the spectacular appearance of The Pickwick Papers in 1836, which brought world fame to a 24-year-old, to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, left unfinished when a stroke blew through his frantic brain in 1870.