The starving orphan seekinga second helping of gruel.
The spinster wasting awayin her tattered wedding dress.
The stone-hearted miser plaguedby the ghost of Christmas past.
More than a century after his death,
these remain recognizable figuresfrom the work of Charles Dickens.
So striking is his body of work that it gave rise to its own adjective.
But what are the features of Dickens’s writing that make it so special?
Dickens’s fiction brims with anticipation
through brooding settings,plot twists, and mysteries.
These features of his work kepthis audience wanting more.
When first published,his stories were serialized,
meaning they were released a few chapters
at a time in affordable literary journals
and only later reprinted as books.
This prompted fevered speculationover the cliffhangers
and revelations he devised.
Serialization not only made fictionavailable to a wider audience
and kept them reading, but increased the hype around the author himself.
Dickens became particularly popularfor his wit,
which he poured into quirky charactersand satiric scenarios.
His characters exhibit the sheerabsurdity of human behavior,
and their names often personifytraits or social positions,
like the downtrodden Bob Cratchit,
the groveling Uriah Heap,
and the cheery Septimus Crisparkle.
Dickens set these colorful charactersagainst intricate social backdrops,
which mimic the society he lived in.
For instance, he often considered the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
在那个年代 底层人民从事肮脏的工作 居住于恶劣的生存环境
During this period, the lower classes experienced sordid working and living conditions.
Dickens himself experiencedthis hardship as a child
when he was forced to work ina boot blacking factory
after his father was sentto debtors’ prison.
This influenced his depictionof the Marshalsea prison in Little Dorrit,
where the titular character caresfor her convict father.
Prisons, orphanages, or slumsmay seem grim settings for a story,
but they allowed Dickens to shed light
on how his society’s most invisible people lived.
In Nicholas Nickleby, Nicholas takes a job with the schoolmaster Wackford Squeers.
He soon realizes that Squeersis running a scam
where he takes unwanted childrenfrom their parents for a fee
and subjects them to violenceand deprivation.
Oliver Twist also deals with the plight of children
in the care of the state,
illustrating the brutal conditions ofthe workhouse
in which Oliver pleadswith Mr. Bumble for food.
When he flees to London, he becomes ensnared in a criminal underworld.
These stories frequently portrayVictorian life
描绘成肮脏 腐朽 残忍的样子
as grimy, corrupt, and cruel.
But Dickens also saw his time
as one in which old traditions were fading away.
London was becomingthe incubator of the modern world
through new patterns in industry,trade, and social mobility.
Dickens’s London is thereforea dualistic space:
a harsh world that is simultaneouslyfilled with wonder and possibility.
比如 《远大前程》中 围绕皮普
For instance, the enigmaof Great Expectations
centers around the potential of Pip,
an orphan plucked from obscurityby an anonymous benefactor
and propelled into high society.
In his search for purpose,
Pip becomes the victim of other people ’ s ambitions for him
and must negotiate witha shadowy cast of characters.
Like many of Dickens’s protagonists,
poor Pip’s positionis constantly destabilized,
just one of the reasonswhy reading Dickens
is the best of times for the reader,
while being the worst of times for his characters.
Dickens typically offered clearresolution by the end of his novels,
– with the exception ofThe Mystery of Edwin Drood.
The novel details the disappearance of the orphan Edwin under puzzling circumstances. However,
Dickens died before the novelwas finished
and left no notes resolving the mystery.
Readers continue to passionately debate
over who Dickens intended as the murderer,
and whether Edwin Droodwas even murdered in the first place.
经多次改编 向文学致敬 其小说的文稿
Throughout many adaptations, literary homages, and the pages of his novels,
Dickens ’ s sparkling language and panoramic worldview
continue to resonate. Today,
the adjective Dickensian often implies squalid workingor living conditions.
But to describe a novel asDickensian is typically high praise,
as it suggests a story in which trueadventure and discovery
occur in the most unexpected places.
Although he often explored bleak material,
Dickens ’ s piercing wit never failed to find light in the darkest corners.