The Imagination of Charles Dickens

There may be better novelists in the English language, but there is no greater writer than Charles Dickens (1812-1870). Forget the plots. Dickens’ capacity to explore the gritty underworld of mid-nineteenth century London, his comic genius, his indictments of the British legal system, his sympathy for those exploited or left behind by the industrial revolution, and the sheer exuberance of his use of the English language, make him unique among all writers. His great characters—Pickwick, Uriah Heep, Mr. Micawber, Jaggers, Miss Havisham, Mrs. Jellyby, &c.—have risen out of the pages of his books to become permanent residents in the human imagination.