Do you still love Charles Dickens?

Written by J.D. Ian Barton & Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano;
© (2017)

Once upon a time a blind date told me about his love for Tolstoy and I thought – wow, great! While I immediately conjured up my beloved Anna Karenina he went on to describe War and Peace as a great work. I had always thought of War and Peace as little more than a schmaltzy novel. So I saw his interest in War and Peace as a great insight into him and I mentally dismissed him (well, not only mentally).

When thinking about Charles Dickens I thought of his gloomy view of London stinking of the gas lamp; that sputtering meager light which barely brightens the overpowering darkness of the cold garret room where, huddled in the corner, poverty has mired a guiltless ragamuffin. Charles Dickens died in 1870 and left an indelible mark on the English language like few other writers and those who have ever read, or seen, ‘Glen Garry Glen Ross’ know that Mr. Mamet is America’s greatest living playwright. (I am not sure if he is still living at the time of writing). That is because he understands human nature, the innate unfairness of life, and how people interact in every type of setting.

Can you see any similarity with Dickens? But, what is there within Dickens to be loved?

His characters are alive and well today. Where can you find a modern example of David Copperfield? There are many David Copperfield today and their plight can be as bad as when Dickens wrote. Some of the news material presented to us on a daily basis is more repellant than A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield or A Tale of Two Cities.

A quick comparison can facilitate an understanding of what there is to be loved about Dickens. George Orwell did not like Dickens at all. Why? Orwell wanted a complete change from the capitalist system and considered that Dickens naively believed that if people had a change of heart and behaved better the world would be a better place. In contrast, Orwell was of the view that under capitalism people could not behave any better.

Thus I began a new life …. A curtain had for ever fallen on my life [at the factory.] No one has ever raised that curtain since. I have lifted it for a moment, even in this narrative, with a reluctant hand, and dropped it gladly. The remembrance of that life is fraught with so much pain to me, with so much mental suffering and want of hope, that I have never had the courage even to examine how long I was doomed to lead it. Whether it lasted for a year, or more or less, I do not know. I only know that it was, and ceased to be; and that I have written, and there I leave it.

Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano
Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano

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