"Christmas stories" by Charles Dickens (стр. 1 из 9)



Chapter I – Charles Dickens life and career and the role of Christmas stories in his creativity

1) Beginning of literary career of Charles Dickens

2) Charles Dickens’ works written in Christmas story genre

3) Final creative works and changes in Charles Dickens personality

4) Review about his creativity

Chapter II – The ideological theme of Christmas stories of Charles Dickens

1) The essence of Christmas stories and characterization of the main heroes

2) The differential features between Dickens’ and Irving’s Christmas stories

3) Critical views to the stories Somebody’s Luggage and Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings”




Charles Dickens generally regarded as the greatest English novelist; he enjoyed a wider popularity than any previous author had done during his lifetime. Much in his work could appeal to simple and sophisticated, to the poor and the Queen, and technological developments as well as the qualities of his enabled his fame to spread worldwide very quickly. His long career fluctuations in the reception and sales of individual novels, but none of them was negligible or uncharacteristic or disregarded, and though he is now admired for aspects and phases of his work that were given less weight by his contemporaries, his popularity has never ceased and his present critical standing is higher than ever before. The most abundantly comic of English authors, he was much more than a great entertainer. The range, compassion, and intelligence of his apprehension of his society and its shortcomings enriched his novels and made him both one of the great forces in XIX century literature and an influential spokesman of the conscience of his age.

Dickens was being compared to Shakespeare, for imaginative range and energy, while he was still in his twenties. He and Shakespeare are the two unique popular classics that England has given to the world, and they are alike in being remembered not for one masterpiece (as is the case with Dante, Cervantes, or John Milton) but for a creative world, a plurality of works populated by a great variety of figures, in situations ranging from the somber to the farcical. For the common reader, both Shakespeare and Dickens survive through their characterization, though they offer much else. Dickens enjoys one temporary advantage in having lived when he did and thus being able to write of an urban industrial world, in which the notions of representative government and social responsibility were current – a world containing many of the problems and hopes that persist a century after his death and far beyond the land of his birth.[1]

No one thinks first of Mr. Dickens as a writer. He is at once, through his books a friend. He belongs among the intimates of every pleasant tempered and large-hearted person. He is not so much the guest as the inmate of our homes. He keeps holidays with us, he helps us to celebrate the Christmas with heartier cheer, he shares at every New Year in our good wishes: for, indeed it is not purely literary character that he has done most for us, it is a man with large humanity, who has simply used literature as the means by which to bring himself into relation with his follow-men, and to inspire them with something on his own sweetness, kindness, charity, and good-will. He is great magician of our time. His wand is a book, but his power is in his own heart. It is a rare piece of good fortune for us that we are the contemporaries of this benevolent genius… These are the words not of a book-loving Miss Cosyhearts, but of a great American scholar Charles Eliot Norton, respected friend of artists and writers of both sides of the Atlantic: and this specially “friend feelings” were, of course, woke by Dickens’s character as well as by his whole artistic and public personality. “all his characters are my personal friends”-and, again this is not quoted from a bookman of the “Essays of Elia” school, but from Tolstoy, who continued: “I am constantly comparing them with living person, and living persons with them, and what a spirit there was in all he wrote”. Dickens was not deceiving himself nor exaggerating, though he may have been sipping at a sweet that contained some person for him, when he spoke of “that particular relation which subsists between me and the public”.

R.H Horne was able to report, in 1844, that his works were as popular in Germany as in Britain, were available in French, Italian, and Dutch and “some of his works are translated into Russian”. Horne’s information was correct: and, as Professor Henry Gifford has remarked: “no foreign writer of that time (or since) ever because thoroughly domiciled in the Russian imagination”. When Dickens as the rich and the articulate present their homage, but also he was international. It is remarkable feature of English literature that it has given the world, in Shakespeare and Dickens, the two popular classic author, with whom even the greatest of writers, ancient and modern – , Sophocles, Dante, Molier, Goethe, the greatest novelists of France, Russian, and America – are tastes outside, or even inside, their own countries. This of course does not prove, that Dickens is necessarily a greater novelist that Balzac, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, or George Eliot: only to recognize that Dickens’s qualities are more readily and widely relished, and have better survived translation into other languages and presentations to other cultures.

Charles Dickens’ pen-name was “Boz”. During his lifetime, Dickens was viewed as a popular entertainer of fecund imagination, while later critics championed his mastery of prose, his endless invention of memorable characters and his powerful social sensibilities. The popularity of his novels and short stories during his lifetime and to the present is demonstrated by the fact that none has ever gone out of print. Dickens played a major role in popularizing the serialized novel. Dickens’ works are characterized by an attack on social evils, injustice and hypocrisy. He had also experienced in his youth oppression, when he was forced to end school in early teens and work in a factory. Dickens’ lively good, bad and comic characters such as cruel miser Scrooge, the aspiring novelist David Copperfield, trusting and innocent Mr. Pickwick have fascinated generations of readers. Dickens's novels combine brutality with fairy-tale fantasy; sharp, realistic, concrete detail with romance, farce, and melodrama; the ordinary with the strange. They range through the comic, tender, dramatic, sentimental, grotesque, melodramatic, horrible, eccentric, mysterious, violent, romantic, and morally earnest. Though Dickens was aware of what his readers wanted and was determined to make as much money as he could with his writing, he believed novels had a moral purpose–to arouse innate moral sentiments and to encourage virtuous behavior in readers. It was his moral purpose that led the London Times to call Dickens "the greatest instructor of the Nineteenth Century" in his obituary.[2]

During his lifetime, Charles Dickens was the most famous writer in Europe and America. When he visited America to give a series of lectures, his admirers followed him, waited outside his hotel, peered in windows at him, and harassed him in railway cars. In their enthusiasm, Dickens's admirers behaved very much like the fans of a superstar today.

A direct influence of the English novelist is also manifest in the writings of Russian authors of the time. His influence is most definitely felt in Dostoyevsky’s stories of the late fifties (“The Village of Stepanchikovo” and “Uncle’s Dream”) and the novel “The Abused and The Humiliated”.

The end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX was a period, in the course of which various collections of Dickens’ works (with a number of so-called “complete”) and several books on Dickens were published; a large number of children’s and popular editions of Dickens’ also appeared at that time.

The post-October epoch constitutes an exceptional page in the history of Dickens on Russia. The circulation of his works had never been so high; they had never been staged on such a large scale by our theatres as after the revolution. A fundamental thirty-volume edition Dickens’ works is now being completed.

The way to a better critical evolution of Dickens’ works a swell as to their genuine re-creation in Russian language has been neither straight nor smooth. Criticism had to live through a period a period of “vulgar sociologizing”, the theory and practice of translation had to overcome a vain striving at an “exact” translation of Dickens, i. e. a translation containing a scrupulous counterpart of every formal detail of the original. In addition to translations marked by pure formalism and literalism there exist nowadays a number of brilliant first-rate translations of Dickens.

Some important aspects of the way Dickens’ art was understood and received in Russia are elucidated in a series of articles, which form a special Appendix to the book. The majority of these treat problems, which have hardly if ever been approached by specialists in Dickensian studies. A considerable number of these articles are founded on archive data. They deal with such topics as the translators of Dickens, the earliest responses of the Russian press to the first publication of a novel by Dickens, they provide descriptions of unpublished stage versions of his works; contain an essay of the impact Dickens’ art had on Russian poetry etc.

Both the contents of the Bibliographical index and the articles of the Appendix testify to outstanding importance of the artistic heritage of the great English novelist for the past and present of Russian and also world culture.[3]


Charles Dickens’ life and career and the role of Christmas stories in his

creative activity

§1.Beginning of literary career of Charles Dickens.

Charles John Huffam Dickens was born February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, but left it in infancy. His happiest childhood years were spent in Chatham (1817-1822), and area to which he often reverts in his fiction. From 1822 he lived in London, until in 1860, he moved permanently to a country house, Gad`s Hill, near Chatham. His origins were middle class, if of a newfound and precarious respectability; one grandfather was a domestic servant, and the other an embezzler. His father the clerk in the navy pay office was well paid but his extravagance and ineptitude often brought the family to financial embarrassment or disaster. (Some of his failings and his ebullience are dramatized in Mr. Micawber in the partly autobiographical David Copperfield). In 1824, the family reached bottom. Charles, the eldest son, had been withdrawn from school and was now set to manual work in a factory, and his father went to prison to dept. These shocks deeply affected Charles. Though abhorring this brief descends into the working class, he began to gain that sympathetic knowledge of their life and privations that informed his writings. Also, the image of the prison and of the lost, oppressed, or bewildered child recurs in many novels. Much else in his character and art stems from his period, including, as the XX century novelist Angus Wilson has argued, his later difficulty, as men and author in understanding women: this may be traced to his bitter resentment against his mother, who had, he felt, failed disastrously at this time to appreciate his sufferings. She had wanted him to stay at work when his father’s release from prison and an improvement in the family’s fortunes made the boy’s return to school possible. Happily the father’s view prevailed. His schooling, interrupted and unimpressive, ended at 15. He became a clerk in a solicitor’s office, then a short-hand reporter in the law courts (thus gaining a knowledge of the legal world often used in the novels), and finally, like other members of his family, a parliamentary and newspaper reporter. These years left him with a lasting affection for journalism and contempt both for the law and for Parliament. His coming to manhood in the reformist 1830s, and particularly his working on the Liberal Benthamite Morning Chronicle (1834-36), greatly affected his political outlook. Another influential event now was his rejection as suitor to Maria Beadnell because his family and prospects were unsatisfactory; his hopes of gaining and chagrin at losing her sharpened his determination to succeed. His feelings about Maria then and at her later brief and disillusioning reentry into his life are reflected in David Copperfield Adoration of Dora Spenlow and the middle-aged Arthur Clennam`s discovery (in Little Dorrit) that Flora Finching, who had seemed enchanting years ago, was “diffuse and silly,” that Flora “whom he had left a lily, had become a peony.”[4]

Much drawn to the theatre, Dickens nearly became a professional actor in 1832. In 1833 he began contributing stories and descriptive essays to magazines and newspapers; this attracted attention and were reprinted as Sketches by “Boz” (February 1836). The same month, he was invited to provide a comic serial narrative to accompany engravings by a well-known artist; seven weeks later the first installment of Pickwick Papers appeared. Within a few months Pickwick was the rage and Dickens the most popular author of the day. The Pickwick Papers was Dickens’s first novel and, although published in the first year of Queen Victoria’s reign, it is widely regarded as the most famous of all pre-Victorian novels. It was originally serialized in monthly numbers from April, 1836 to November, 1837, when Dickens was only twenty-five years old. On the threshold of marriage to Catherine Hogarth, Dickens was obviously pleased with commission to write the Pickwick Papers, and wrote to his fiancée that ‘the emolument is too tempting to resist’. We owe a great dept to Providence, as the first two choices as writers either failed to reply or refused the commission. Chesterton was of the opinion that The Pickwick Papers was Dickens’s greatest novel in the literary genre at which he excelled. During 1836 he also wrote two plays and a pamphlet on a topical issue (how the poor should be allowed to enjoy the Sabbath) and, resigning from his newspaper job, undertook to edit a monthly magazine, Bentley’s Miscellany, in which he serialized Oliver Twist (1837-39). This is one of the most celebrative novels following the publication of Pickwick Papers. It contains many of the classical themes of his best writing such as the plight of orphans in Victorian England; the grinding poverty of that period endured by so many people, and the working of the New Poor Law; and the sow triumph of good nature and strong character over would-be suborners, the lure of temptation, organized persecution and the ravages of the fear, desperation and menace. The literary pedigree of Oliver Twist goes back in direct line to the Gothic novel and the picaresque novels of the eighteens century, most notably those of Smollett and Fielding, which are known to have been among the Dickens’s favorite reading. The novel contains some of Dickens’s most famous characters, many of which have entered the language as exemplars of certain types, most notably: the exploited child – Oliver Twist, himself - who dared to ask for more; the tyrant Bumble, the parish beadle; the diabolic gang leader Fagin, and others. The first complete edition of Oliver Twist, or, the Parish Boys Progress appeared in three volumes in 1838, being published by Richard Bentley of New Burlington Street, London, with whom Dickens was often dispute. For several years his life continued at this intensity. Finding serialization congenial and profitable, he repeated the Pickwick pattern of 20 monthly parts in Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39). Comedy had predominated in Pickwick Papers, tragedy in Oliver Twist. The more complete fusion of the two was effected in Nicholas Nickleby. The two heroes are Ralph Nickleby and his nephew Nicholas. They stand forth, almost from the beginning, as antagonists in battle array the one against the other, and the story is, in the main, the history of the campaigns between them – cunning and greed being mustered on the one side, and young generous courage on the other. Then Dickens experimented with shorter weekly installments for The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41) and Barnaby Rudge (1841). There is no hero in The Old Curiosity Shop, - unless Mr. Richard Sweveller, “perpetual grand-master of the Glorious Apollos,” be the questionable hero; the heroine is Little Nell, a child. And of all these children, the one who seems to have stood highest in popular favor, and won most hearts.[5]

Exhausted at last, he then took a five-month vacation in America, touring strenuously and receiving quasi-royal honors as a literary celebrity but offending national sensibilities by protesting against the absence of copyright protection. A radical critic of British institutions, he had expected more from “the republic of my imaginations,” but he found more vulgarity and sharp practice to detest than social arrangements to admire. Some of these feelings appear in American Notes (1842) and Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44).