You may have heard from the news that it was 200 years yesterday since Charles Dickens was born. In fact, he will be celebrated throughout the year especially in the UK in exhibitions and lectures, on stage and television, etc. In my opinion, he certainly deserves the highest praise any writer could ever be granted.
In recent years, we have had the opportunity to see several of BBC’s great Dickens series on our local television but I was first introduced to Dickens when I was studying English at university. He was such a perceptive storyteller and social commentator that it is easy to be instantly fascinated by his novels. However, it is his magical mastery of the English language that makes his narrative so enjoyable and compelling that once you have read him in English it is almost certain the fascination and admiration will turn into love that will last a lifetime.
Great Expectations was my first Dickens but the one I’ve enjoyed the most so far was his first novel The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club or The Pickwick Papers. It was originally published as a serial when he was only 24 and 25 years old, which is astonishing.
I read it about a decade ago when I was rather distressed going through a period with many worries. I wanted to start wrestling with a very thick novel hoping that by the time I would reach the end things might have changed for the better. I started carrying the 804-page paperback in my handbag reading it every day on the bus ride to and from work.
It was winter and until then the good half an hour spent in the bus twice daily alone with my thoughts had sometimes turned quite gloomy. Nevertheless, the fantastically comic characters of the Pickwick Club and the overwhelming humour, wit and insight with which Dickens chronicles their adventures dried out my tears completely, bringing a smile into my face and even an occasional burst of laughter. How could that not raise your spirits?
If you ever are in need of some serious cheering up, if you appreciate historical novels and if your language skills allow it, do try a regimen of Dickens in English. Satisfaction guaranteed!