"Christmas stories" by Charles Dickens

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over the world mourned the loss of “a friend” as well as a great entertainer and creative artist and one of the acknowledged influences upon the spirit of the age.


4. Review about Charles Dickens creativity.


Ralph Waldo Emerson, attending one of Dickens readings in Boston, “laughed as if he must crumble to pieces,” but, discussing Dickens afterward, he said:

“I am afraid that he has too much talent for his genius; it is a fearful locomotive to which he is bound and can never be free from it nor set to rest…. He daunts me! I have not the key.”

There is no simple key to so prolific and multifarious an artist nor to the complexities of the man, and interpretation of birth is made harder by his possessing and feeling to need to exercise so many talents besides his imagination. How his fiction is related to these talents practical, journalistic, oratorical, histrionic remains controversial. Also the geniality and unequaled comedy of the novels must be related to the sufferings, errors and self-pity of their author and to his concern both for social evils and perennial grieves and limitations of humanity. The novels cover a wide range, social, moral, emotional, and psychological. Thus, he is much concerned with very ordinary people but also with abnormality (e.g. eccentricity, depravity, madness, hallucinations, dream states). He is both the most imaginative and fantastic and the most topical and documentary of great novelists. He is unequal too; a wonderfully inventive and poetic writer, he can also, even in his mature novels, write with a painfully slack conventionality.

Biographers have only since the mid-20th enough to explore the complexity of Dickens nature. Critics have always been challenged by his art, though from the start it contained enough easily acceptable ingredients, evident skill and gusto, to ensure popularity. The earlier novels were and by and large have continued to be Dickens most popular works: The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Martin Chuzzlewit, A Christmas Carol, and David Copperfield. Critics began to demur against the later novels, deploring the loss of the freer comic spirit, baffled by the more symbolic mode of his art, and uneasy when the simpler reformism over isolated issues became a more radical questioning of social and assumptions and institutions. Dickens was never neglected or forgotten and never lost his popularity, but for 70 years after his death he received remarkably little serious attention (George Gissing, G.K. Chesterton, and George Bernard Shaw being notably exceptions). F.R. Leavis, later to revise his opinion, was speaking for many, in 1948, when he asserted that “the adult mind doesnt as a rule find in Dickens a challenge to an unusual and sustained seriousness”; Dickens was indeed a great genius, “but the genius was that of a great entertainer.”

Modern Dickens criticism dates from 1940-41, with the very different impulses given by George Orwell, Edmund Wilson, and Humphry House, in the 1950s, a substantial reassessment and re-editing of the works began, his finest artistry and greatest depth now being discovered in the later novels Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Great Expectations and (less unanimously) in Hard Times and Our Mutual Friend. Scholars have explored his working methods, his relations with the public, and the ways in which he was simultaneously an eminently Victorian figure and an author “not of an age but for all time.” Biographically, little had been added to Forsters massive and intelligent Life (1872-74), except the Ellen Ternan story, until Edgar Johnsons in 1952. Since then, no radically new view has emerged, though several works including those by Joseph Gold (1972) and Fred Kaplan (1975) have given particular phases or aspects fuller attention. The centenary in 1970 demonstrated a critical consensus about his standing second only to William Shakespeare in English literature, which would have seemed incredibly 40 or even 20 years earlier.


Charles Dickens` s Christmas stories.


1. The essence of Christmas stories and characterization of the main heroes of these works


Who ever understood children better than he? Other writers have wondered at them, he understands them, - the romance of their fun, the fun of their romance, the nonsense in their ideas, and the ideas in their nonsense. He wrote a portion of one of his best Christmas serials “Boots at the Holly-Tree Inn” it is called a story of baby love which would have drawn smiles and tears from Mr. Grangrind, and which, as was recognized on the spot as absolutely true to nature by a mother in the gallery, whose sympathy I thought at the time would be too much for Mr. Dickens himself. We could picture better than he that curious animal, the British boy? Why he understood him in every phrase and under every aspect of his existence, whether he was the pupil of Dr Blimber` s classical academy or of Mr. Fagin `s establishment of technical education. Who, again, fathomed more profoundly that sea whose dimples so often deceive us as to its depth, the mind of a young girl? …

As seasonably welcome as either plum pudding let us say, or as mince pies and, happily, just as inevitable for many years past, on the animal coming round of December have been the successive Christmas numbers of Mr. Dickens `s periodical have long since come to look for ward to them very succeeding twelvemonth almost as were mothers of course. We would as soon think, somehow of celebrating Christmas without, for example, dangling a pendant bunch of mistletoe overhead or without wreathing green branches and red berries about the paneling of our homerooms, as without according once more a welcome, not merely upon our hearths, but within our hearts to some new tale or series of tales more or less appropriate to the season to the holy days and the holly nights of Christmas tide-tales told by our Great Novelist at regular intervals now during a goodly span of one whole score of years between 1845, the first memorable year thus celebrated by Mr. Dickens with the best of all his Christmas Books, The “Christmas Carol”, and the last year, 1865, hardly less noticeable in its turn as the year within which he produced about the finest of all his Christmas Numbers, “Doctor Marigold”. Happily his Christmas story teller appears to be fairly exhaustible. He never seems to lack, year after year, some ingenious device some device perfectly new and original in itself, and never previously thought of as a medium for the relation of as series or cluster of narratives upon which, as upon a connecting thread, he can string together the priceless, pearls, blown eggshells, winter daisies or what not, making up the miscellaneous assortment of each successive Christmas Number. Here, in “Mugby Junction, is the last, and certainly not the least surprising evidence of this extraordinary ingenuity of his in the way of imaginative contrivance. It is as different from “Doctor Marigold”, in the root idea of it, and in the whole manner and treatment of it, as Doctor Marigold was, in each of those particulars, different from Mrs. Lurriper. Each of Christmases short stories stands absolutely “per se” must be regarded as distinctly “sui generis” - “none but itself can be its parallel”. It was the same one year with “Poor Traveler” - another with the “Wreck of the Golden Mary” another with the “Holly-Tree Inn”. Mr. Dickens never repeats himself. One while a “Lodging Housekeeper” another Cheap Jack now a Boots now a Railway Polter his identity is swallowed up, as one way say (and say, too, without one atom of extravagance) in the last of his great realistic idealizations.

…The main excellence, value, and attraction, however, of the number all lie as a matter of course in the for opening papers from the hand of our great novelist. Foremost among them, do our thinking, being beyond all comparison the best of the four the story of “The Signalman.” Brief though it is, it is perfect as a work of art. It shows again, and in a remarkable manner, Mr. Dickens `s power in his mastery of the terrible. The pathetic force of it is truly admirerable. It is, surely, the finest Tale of Presentment that has ever yet been told. … immediately after “The Signalman” in excellence and thoroughly delightful, if only by way of contrast, commend us to “The Boy at Mugby”- own brother to Trabb `s boy in “Great Expectations” a friend of their heart to Tom Scott, in the “Old Curiosity Shop” worthy of being comrade and associate of Bailey Junior in “Martin Chuzzlewit”. …

Mr. Dickens has this Christmas earned our admiration by the freshness with which he tells his animal story. The Christmas number of “All the Year Round” is, it is well-known, a batch of stories connected together by the editorial narrative which professes to account for the collection of so many separate tales. Of the separate tales now published we do not propose to speak also one of them is by Mr. Dickens himself. They are well-selected batch of short- stories, which, however, call for no special remark. The interest of the critic and of the reader will rest upon Mr. Dickens introductory narrative, which is even better in its way than the introduction to “Mrs. Lirriper `s Lodgings. Mrs. Lirriper was one of our authors most characteristic sketches…. But this year Mr. Dickens has bec