Charles Dickens: his life and times Biographical Stuff 1812 to 1870 Father, John, was a clerk who continually lived beyond his means and went to debtor’s prison while young Charles was 12. Wife & sibs there too, but not Charles So he had to work in a boot-blacking factory and got 6 shillings a week to support them Bio continued… When dad got released, mom wanted Charles to keep working there, much to his dismay This really scarred him and introduces to his future works themes such as Abandonment, Alienation, Betrayal, and Childhood Poverty Bio. continued… Eventually became a day pupil at a school in London, & at age 15 got a job in a lawyer’s office, as an office boy. Learned shorthand. Had various jobs as a reporter, and after the success of The Pickwick Papers (1837, serial format), he became a full-time novelist. 15 novels total. Countless short stories and articles. Last Bio. Bits Got married to Catherine Hogarth, but separated from her around 1858, ATOTC was published in 1859 when he’s w/Ellen Terman, a young actress. She inspires several characters, as do most people he has known. Last book was begun but never finished: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 1869. His contemporaries King George III to Queen Victoria (mostly her! He’s considered a Victorian writer) George Elliot (aka Mary Anne Evans, a British novelist who wrote Middlemarch, Silas Marner, and others) Mark Twain, who saw him speak on an American tour William Thackery, who wrote Vanity Fair. This guy is a friend and rival writer. Anthony Trollope The Industrial Revolution Dickens and Serial Publication by Joel J. Brattin Dickens' first novel, the brilliantly comic THE PICKWICK PAPERS, brought him enormous fame. Like all his subsequent novels, it was originally published serially, that is, in installments or parts over time. He not only published serially but wrote serially too, planning each installment carefully. (His contemporary, Anthony Trollope, also published this way, but unlike Dickens, he never published the first word of a novel until after he had written the last.) Dickens had to consider structure carefully, thinking simultaneously of the needs of his serial readers and of those who would eventually read the books in volume form. He published his serial fiction as part of weekly or monthly magazines, which might contain material by other authors as well, or in stand-alone monthly installments. The publication of fiction in parts grew dramatically in the 1830s, as a direct result of the wild success of THE PICKWICK PAPERS. Serial publication had several advantages. For the reader, it substantially reduced the cash outlay required to pay for fiction: for a novel in monthly installments like PICKWICK, one had to pay only one shilling a month, instead of a guinea (21 shillings) or more for an entire novel. For the publisher, it expanded the market for fiction, as more people could afford to buy on the installment plan; it also allowed the opportunity to advertise, as ads could easily be incorporated into the little booklets in which a typical Dickens novel was issued. And for the author, it created a greater intimacy with the audience, something Dickens always relished. Most of Dickens' novels were serialized in 20 monthly installments, or numbers. They were usually bound in green paper, and -- after the first two monthly installments of THE PICKWICK PAPERS -- always included precisely 32 pages of text, two engraved illustrations, and, usually, 16 pages of advertisements. The final installment of a novel was double size, including more text, four illustrations (generally a frontispiece and engraved title page), and front matter, such as a preface, table of contents, and list of illustrations; the final double installment cost not one but two shillings. Each month, the purchaser could buy the current installment from his bookseller, and wealthy patrons, after buying the last installment, could take the monthly numbers to the bookbinder, discard the covers and advertisements, and have them bound into an attractive book for their shelves. In 1859, he founded a new weekly journal, ALL THE YEAR ROUND, in which he published A TALE OF TWO CITIES, treating the French Revolution. The novel appeared without illustrations in its weekly form, but Dickens' publishers also produced a version in monthly numbers, with two illustrations per installment. His Fame HUGELY popular in his time; one of 10 Brits who could read, did read him, and oftentimes out loud to others. Considered 2nd only to Shakespeare His work appealed to people of all conditions, w/sympathy for issues like homelessness, child labor, work houses, free and easy access to medical care, responsibility of the individual to one another, poverty, etc. Fame continued… Technological developments (popularity of printing houses, serially published novels) helped him to reach a larger audience whom he influenced emotionally (the death of Little Nell--people were crying all over England) Was a popular guest speaker, amateur actor, comic artist, and entertainer. Did public readings of his works for charity and eventually for pay. Went on tour :) Victorian Literature Education was spreading in this age (1832-1901), and as literacy increased, so did the impact of the written word. Probably at no other time before or since did books enjoy such enormous popularity and influence. ROMANTICISM, REALISM, NATURALISM Romanticism, the previous literary era (begins 1789) had begun as a radical departure from literary practice; now it was part of mainstream culture, but slightly stale. A new generation of writers, coming of age in a time of rapid technological change, began to examine the social effects of that change. The heroes of this gen’s lit would be ordinary people facing the day-to-day problems of life. Realism – a literary mvt that presented life as it is, rather than as it might be. It sought to portray human life realistically, w/o the sugar coating or idealism of the previous era. Because it focused on these more down-to-earth or prosaic events, the lit is more suited to prose (poetry being the hallmark of the Romantics). Therefore, this shift in style helped make the Victorian Age the great age of the British novel. This lit appealed to a growing middle-class aud. b/c of topics like family relationships, religion and morality, social change, and social reform. New ideas in science also made their mark on Victorian lit. Naturalism – an outgrowth of realism that sought to apply the techniques of scientific observation to writing about life in the industrial age. -These writers crammed their novels with details like the sour smells of poverty or the harsh sounds of factory life in order to promote social reform -They directly contradicted the romantic view of Nature as kindly and benevolent -The idea that nature mirrored human feelings was a “pathetic fallacy.” Naturalist writers portrayed nature as harsh and indifferent to the human suffering it often caused. HOWEVER, it would be a mistake to assume that Victorian writers abandoned Romanticism altogether. Some blended it w/realism or naturalism. Others sought to revive it, so we have two important Victorian literary movements: 1. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Formed about 1850, this group of painters (Mrs. Willshire’s favorites, by the by) and poets sought to ignore the ugliness of industrial life by portraying nature w/the fidelity found in medieval Italian art before the Renaissance painter Raphael (1483-1520). The most famous artist/poet is Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 2. The Aesthetic Mvt. These writers appeared at the tail end of the era, and turned away from the everyday world and sought to create “art for art’s sake” works whose sole reason for being was their perfection/beauty. (Wilde) More Famous Names Novelists: Thomas Hardy Emily Bronte (tho’ Wuthering Heights has many Romantic Elements) Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre, lots of realism) Rudyard Kipling Robert Louis Stevenson Arthur Conan Doyle Poets: Tennyson (poet laureate), Browning, Arnold, Meredith, Hopkins, the Rossettis… The Christmas Phenomenon He probably had more influence on how Xmas is celebrated today than anyone else in human history …except one Before the beginning of the Victorian Era, Xmas celebrations in England were actually in decline b/c Cromwell and those other Puritans frowned upon the old medieval traditions, which combined celebrations of Christ’s birth w/the ancient Roman Saturnalia festival (pagan) and the Germanic winter festival of Yule. Xmas continued… Industrial Revolution meant really long hours, and little time for family celebrations BUT Prince Albert introduces the German custom of Xmas tree decorating to England Xmas carols, which were almost all gone in early 1800’s, are making a comeback 1st Xmas card from 1840’s. He published A Christmas Carol in 1843. Xmas continued… He called it, “a good time: a kind forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” So it’s NOT about commercialized nonsense, but in hearts and homes. Last Slide! Upon his death, a little girl in London said, “Mr. Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?” Just a brief clarification: Is Xmas supposed to be the most important holiday for Christians?