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Charles Dickens, a man so representative of his age as to have become considered synonymous with it, demands to be read in context. This book illuminates the worlds - social, political, economic and artistic - in which Dickens worked. Dickens's professional life encompassed work as a novelist, journalist, editor, public reader and passionate advocate of social reform. This volume offers a detailed treatment of Dickens in each of these roles, exploring the central features of Dickens's age, work and legacy, and uncovering sometimes surprising faces of the man and of the range of Dickens industries. Through 45 digestible short chapters written by a leading expert on each topic, a rounded picture emerges of Dickens's engagement with his time, the influence of his works and the ways he has been read, adapted and re-imagined from the nineteenth century to the present.
Dickens's powerful evocation not only of Christmas, but of the plight of the poor in Victorian Britain Written in the so-called 'Hungry Forties', when Britain's landscape was scarred by poverty and social unrest, Dickens's Christmas books urged the regenerating power of domesticity and human fellowship upon his devoted readership. Christmas is presented as a time when class differences can be dissolved and enmities suspended. \nA Christmas Carol, the comically grotesque Ebenezer Scrooge ("I don't make merry myself at Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle people merry") eventually learns the value of human warmth and reciprocity. But the joyful winter festivities around which each tale revolves are shown to offer only a temporary respite from the social inequalities of Victorian Britain. In three of the stories domestic misery and childhood deprivation are an ever-present possibility which only the social conscience of Dickens's readers could hold at bay; in the other two domestic happiness is also threatened but it is human passions that pin the plot.
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