Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was a representative of critical realism. He saw the evils of bourgeois society of his time and his immortal works became an accusation of the bourgeois system as a whole.
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth He was the eldest son of a clerk at a large naval office, and the family lived on his father's small salary The father was often transferred from place to place and his parents were always talking about money, bills and debts. Charles and his elder sister went to school, and after classes he was in the habit of running to the docks and watching ships and people at work. Many pictures were stored away in his memory, which the writer used later in his novels. Charles grew fond of reading books. Besides, he took a fancy to singing, reciting poems and acting.
In 1822 the family moved to London. His father made no plans about the education of his children. He spent more money than he could afford, so soon he lost his job and was imprisoned for debts. The family property, including Charles's favourite books, was sold out and the boy was obliged to work at a blacking factory. He worked hard washing bottles for shoe-polish and putting labels on them while the rest of the family lived in the Marshal-sea debtor's prison. The boy could never forget the long working hours at the factory, the poor food, the rough boys who mocked at him. Later he described this unhappy time in the novel "David Copperfield". Charles visited his parents in prison on Sundays. The debtor's prison is described in "The Pickwick Papers" and in the novel "Little Dorrit". A year passed and a relative of the family died and left Mr. Dickens a legacy. His father's debts were paid off and Charles was sent to a private school, but he didn't stay there long as the class studied nothing but Latin. At the age of 12 he became a clerk at a lawyer's office and in his spare time studied shorthand. At the age of 19 he found a job as a newspaper reporter. He continued his general education by reading books in the British Museum. In 1832 Charles Dickens attended the House of Commons being a parliamentary reporter. The party struggle was described later in "The Pickwick Papers".
At the age of 24 Charles married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of his editor. Dickens's first efforts at writing were funny street sketches about the ordinary Londoners. When he was 25 he wrote a sketch and signed it "Boz" (the nickname given to him by his younger brother. It was accepted by a magazine which printed' 9 sketches more). Readers were charmed with their humour. Thus the famous "Pickwick Papers" appeared (the full title is "The Posthumous papers of the Pickwick Club"). Having discovered his gift as a novelist he devoted himself completely to literary work. His next novel was "Oliver Twist", the first social novel about homeless people. At the age of 30 Ch. Dickens became the most popular writer in England. He made a journey to the USA. His experiences are reflected in "American Notes". From 1844 till 1848 Dickens travelled in Italy, France and Switzerland. His genius was at its height; his best novels were written at this time. Dickens was very emotional, he lived the lives of his characters, he suffered with them in their tragic moments, he laughed at the humorous side of their lives. With great energy he started giving dramatic readings from his own works in various towns all over Britain. That was the beginning of the theatre for one actor. In 1867-68 Dickens made a triumphant and very difficult reading tour in the United Slates, which was a great strain on him and he undermined his health. He died suddenly on June 9, 1870 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Dickens's Creative Work
Dickens was the novelist of his age. He wrote a tremendous number of works. He created a new type of novel - the social novel.
Dickens considered that the great contrast between the rich und the poor was abnormal in a civilized society.
Dickens showed a broad panorama of the 19th century English life. He portrayed people of all types seen in the streets of great cities in his time. While reading, we meet commercial agents parliamentarians, political adventurers, scoundrels of all sorts, lawyers, clerks, newspaper reporters, schoolmasters, factory workers, homeless children, priggish aristocrats, pickpockets and convicts. Dickens developed in his readers a love for man; he never lost his warmth and sympathy for this man. This impresses readers and they follow the writer in his pilgrimage along the roads of England. He described offices, factories, prisons and the slums of London.
Dickens's creative work can be divided into 4 periods:
1. The works written in the 1830s:
"Sketches by Boz" (1833 -1836)
"The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club" (1837)
"Oliver Twist" ( 1838)
"Nickolas Nickleby" (1839)
"The Old Curiosity Shop" (1841)
Dickens's heroes in the novels of the 1st period are willing to live in poverty and work hard. There is no sarcasm in his criticism yet. Humour and optimism are characteristics of the 1st period of Dickens's literary activity.
2. The following books written in the 1840s belong to the 2nd period of Dickens's creative work. They are: "American Notes" (1842)
"The Christmas Books" (1843-48)
"Dombey and Son" (1846-48)
In the works of the second period Dickens begins to describe the crimes that were the product of the bourgeois system.
3. The following works written in the 1850s are distinguished by the strongest social criticism expressed in them. He wrote:
"David Copperfield"(1850)
"Bleak House" (1853)
"Hard Times" (1854)
"Little Dorrit" (1857)
Dickens protested by writing his most realistic novels. He became a great democrat in literature.
4. The fourth period of Dicken’s creative work was the 1860s. He wrote only two novels:
"Great Expectations (1861)
"Our Mutual Friend" (1864-65)
Those works are written in the spirit of disillusionment. The writer feels that a better future is too far off and he only dreams of that future. His heroes show the moral strength and patience of the common people.

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