Welcome (back) to ‘Words on Wednesday’! As it’s the Christmas season, I’m beginning December’s installment with the notable author Charles Dickens. A true voice of the Victorian era, Dickens’ creativity and gift for satire propelled him through life. His journey from an idyllic childhood to a youth forced into factory work by a father in debtor’s prison to legal clerk to journalist to novelist gave rise to his many and varied characters. Indeed, Dickens has been tauted as the ‘greatest creator of character in English fiction after Shakespeare.’ With whimsical and pointedly appropriate names, they come to life on the page, drawing us in so that we can hear the incessant grumbling of Ebeneezer Scrooge, feel the breath of Fagin bearing down on us, taste the dust and grime in the air over London. He draws us the picture with his words and lets our imaginations take over – the hallmark of a craftsman. How fortunate are we that he chose to wrestle with his life experiences on the page. That he didn’t keep silent, and lifted his voice above the din to champion the working-class. Here are some of his words this and many other subjects:
With liberties hard won, Dickens did not sally forth through life never to be unaffected again. He faced continued hardship and criticism from his fellow authors despite his enormous public popularity. What never failed him or his writing, however, was the thread of faith that ultimately held together even the bleakest of Dickens’ novels (NPI).
In the eulogy delivered by then Dean of Westminster Arthur Penryhn Stanley some days after his death and burial in the church’s ‘Poet’s Corner’, Dickens was lauded: “that even in dealing with the darkest scenes and the most degraded characters, genius could still be clean, and mirth could be innocent.”
If you have yet to read his books, do yourself a favor. And despite the fact that the Muppet Christmas Carol is quite excellent, don’t just watch a film adaptation. Treat yourself to one of these: