This 7 February, 2012 it was 200 years of Dickens. This article is a tribute to the greatest novelist of any century Charles John Huffam Dickens.
In the 19th century the novel assumed a new phase and acquired a new popularity. The growth of the periodicals and the rise of the middle class accounted for the phenomenal development of the novel during the Victorian age. The novel came to be looked upon as an art of entertainment for the middle class reading publics who are attracted to read novels for amusement.
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Charles Dickens (1812–1870) was born at Landport. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay–Office. He is the most pre-eminent among Victorian novelists. In 1833 some articles which he called Sketches by Boz appeared in The Monthly Magazine. His first novel Pickwick Papers was a parody of 18th century picaresque adventure (a supreme comic novel). This was followed by Oliver Twist, the Old Curiosity Shop, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations etc.
Oliver Twist, Dickens devoted himself to the social conditions with a reforming zeal.
David Copperfield is an autobiographical novel but the main stress is on the social conditions of the period.
Bleak House is the most conscious and deeply planned novel among his works.
Great Expectations shows his artistic capacity.
Hard Times is a social satire.
A Tale of Two Cities has the greatest historical value.
Dickens is a typical English novelist. The characters he created, were not in the round but in the flat type. His genius was quickened by the industrial England of grim cities where poor died, worn out by despair, hardship and hopes of youth were destroyed by drudgery and squalor.
Dickens satisfied the middle class readers by blending slapstick with sentiment. He studied from painful experiences. The life of workshop, office and terrible life of the streets. He laid the settings in London with extra-ordinary vividness. His characters move in all atmosphere of London fog, London smoke, pale London sunshine and dusty London streets. He is more like a social critic who attacks the social conditions of his time diluted by humour and pathos that was never radical or revolutionary. His novels show the torment of industrial slums, education system, and the child labours. Oliver Twist, he painted the darkest world of poor. All realistic scenes were lit up by laughter and warmed up by pity.