I became acquainted with Charles Dickens in my school days when I read his well-known novel “Oliver Twist”, part of my school curriculum. After that this acquaintance became fascination with the reading of “David Copperfield”. And this association continues till my college days with “Tale of Two Cities “and “Great Expectations”. He is only second to Shakespeare who is remembered even today-200 years later as one of the finest authors of young people’s literature.
On 7th February 2012 Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday celebrated all around the world. And, to revere his contribution to English literature different institutions and organisations from all over the world came forward together with various events. Over the course of his life, he wrote 15 novels and several short stories. Initially he started writing under the pen name ‘Boz’. His global acclamation is appropriate as Dickens is undoubtedly the greatest of all the Victorian writers; his work has been translated and published in Italian, German, Greek, Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, Czech and Arabic.
He was a magician who enchanted his readers with his enthralling stories and memorable characters. His characters are unforgettable because they seem real. From Oliver Twist who grows up in a workhouse, to Pip who wants to become a gentleman, to cold-hearted Estella who’s determined to break the hearts of men because her adopted mother Miss Havisham has trained her to do so, the stories of each of his characters are always linked to human struggle, both personal and material. People all over the world know Oliver Twist, Scrooge, Pip and David Copperfield, even if they have not read the books in which these characters appear.
‘If you want your public to believe in what you write you must believe in it yourself. When I am describing a scene I can as distinctly see what I am describing as I can see you now. So real are my characters to me that on one occasion I had fixed eye upon the course which one of them was to pursue. The character, however, got hold of me and made me do exactly the opposite to what I had intended; but I was so sure that he was right and I was wrong that I let him have his own way.’ — Charles Dickens, quoted by Henry Fielding Dickens, Harper’s Monthly Magazine, CXXIX (1914)
Though his everlasting stories transport us to another time and place yet most of these themes are amazingly relevant to us even today. “You only have to look around our society and everything he wrote about in the 1840s is still relevant,” said Dickens’ biographer, Claire Tomalin. “The great gulf between the rich and poor, corrupt financiers, corrupt Members of Parliament … You name it, he said it.” She said Dickens was ‘after Shakespeare, the greatest creator of characters in English’. His books are still ‘amazingly relevant’. Can you ever forget Oliver Twist’s “I want more” and the hypocrisy which took place after boy said that… still applicable to our times?
So, I wouldn’t be wrong if say, Charles Dickens will remain forever with me through his works and this bicentennial has regenerated my interest in him and his novels.