Can we as a nation stop defaming our national heroes?
Iconoclasm is the instinctive impulse of leftists whose only urge is to destroy.
But is this really about Dickens? The author’s point seems to me to be about the context in which Dickens was embedded – Dickens being used as a lens with which to glimpse the Victorian moral and ethical milieu. Thus How could they be so prudish? So rigid, so dogmatic, so racist, so hypocritical? Instead, why not ask what were the beliefs and attitudes grounding the ethical norms motivating Victorian society, rather than reading present day ethical concerns into that era?
I can’t tell; are you having a Dickensian sardonic laugh at yourself? You hate Dickens chiefly for belonging to a generation that makes you uneasy, and then complain that he doesn’t much care for them himself.
This has got to be first review I’ve read that takes personal experience of suffering as a point AGAINST an author writing on suffering! And the first that complains about jokes. Can the man not apply some gallows humour to his own childhood?
And what, pray, does his illicit affair have to do with his feelings for the poor?
No, the title mentions Dickens, but the article is about the Victorians. And your complaint about the Victorians is that they had moral standards. Some lived according to them, and make us aware of our own failures, some didn’t, and give us a good opportunity to write morally superior screed about hypocrisy.
If you make me choose a society en masse, give me the Victorians any day over the 21st century Anglosphere. Hypocrisy is far preferable to our present day’s sneering abandonment of every moral standard.
The writer seems unaware of the power of sardonic humour.
What is the point of this piece? The works of Charles Dickens do not appeal to Will Lloyd, it appears, but does he mount an argument against them beyond the fact that “gooey sentiment”is not to his personal taste? Surely demanding a Dickens novel be less Victorian and more like a Martin Amis novel or a George Orwell novel isn’t a criticism so much as evidence that the reader wanted a book by someone else, which isn’t that interesting. As to Dickens’s behaviour – or that of any other writer or artist – what has that to do with the work produced?
The author’s knowing attitude to Dickens-who was we agree very much a fallen man -as well as a very generous one- misses out Dickens the artist who deeply cares about the condition of his country and its poor. Has Will Lloyd ever attempted to read Dombey and son,Great Expectations, Little Dorrit with some kind of thought as to the way the art is made to condemn a country that condemns its rejected. Of course Dickens was mixed upas he shows Pip to be mixed up-but he also shows Pip’s recognition of his feeling for the rejected Magwitch as one that leads to redemption. He, Lloyd should spend Christmas actually reading his later works and then ask himself what it is his article misses.It is the art that matters!
I’ve always found him indigestible: sickly sweet young women; dismal ‘amusing’ characters; overblown descriptions, and endless moral messages nudging us in the ribs. Thackeray is miles better, and not just in ‘Vanity Fair’. Try ‘Pendennis’ and ‘The Newcomes’.
Much truth. There are some better ones though – be kind – and though he was Hollywood on the page people lap it up, then as now, and so he has an assured place: Daily Dostoyevsky or deeper dives on human nature are not for everyone. So, ‘More the Merrier!’ Ho-Ho! (Oops). Dollop of Trollope anyone, with G K Chestnuts?
I very much like all Dickens’s novels except for Oliver Twist which I think is genuinely inferior, and Hard Times about which I feel ambivalent. The only Thackerays I’ve read are Vanity Fair and Pendenn1s, both of which I enjoyed immensely. I’m also a huge fan of Trollope, both the Barsetshire Chronicles and the Palliser series.
I think dickens was as good as Dostoyevsky, on human nature. And a better writer in English too, although that might be the translations. Dickens could be mawkish but his understanding of hypocrisy was spot on. The hypocrites were the moralists in his society, the owners and managers of the orphanage, the workhouses, the schools, the courts, and the poor houses. Had we a writer like dickens today he would skewer the woke.
I very much like all Dickens’s novels except for Oliver Twist which I think is genuinely inferior, and Hard Times about which I feel ambivalent. The only Thackerays I’ve read are Vanity Fair and Pendennis, both of which I enjoyed immensely. I’m also a huge fan of Trollope, both the Barsetshire Chronicles and the Palliser series.
Dickens was, as they say, ‘a man of his times’. Nowadays we have TV ads for worthy causes, water aid, NSPCC, Barnardos, the new Olivers, trudging up to our doors with hope for our £2, £3 a month, sent by the new Fagins on their six figure CEO salaries. Bill Sykes is now a High St charity-mugger on commission. No wonder Dickens kept guard dogs.
The author fires off his grand standing phrase – ‘their slow realisation that Christianity is not literally true..’ – ignoring the nuances of the age. Many Christians stood firm against secularism’s twin idols of technology and science which held out such hypnotic darwinian promises, in order to offer God’s truth to the spiritually lost, and this is still true today. It is compromising social and economic christians – Victorian or contemporary – twisting the truth of the Bible, who claim it inconvenient for sophisticated latter day tastes. And was it ever thus.
I’m cheered by your remarks, Martha. Merry Christmas to you from the U.S.A.
He shares traits with Disraeli and Ruskin – Tory arrivistes who felt guilty enough to denounce other social climbers who took advantage of Victorian industrialisation and the possibilities it opened but not enough to think of ever giving up the privileges they had earnt for themselves or their descendents.
Hum. True Dickens used railways when they were around, but each day he walked some 25 miles to Westminster and back, and wrote an amazing amount each day,using a quill pen and ink. He was a meritocrat, so not at all how you are painting him. The essay’s summary of George Orwell’s essay is pretty poor, too. He was seen as a social reformer in his day. I see this comment is waiting for approval. I would prefer Unherd to let me know if they refuse to publish something I wrote. And maybe tell me why.
Indeed. Mine is still awaiting approval.
How the hell does a brain injured pretender like me get my stuff posted immediately? I can understand why you are not unhurt.
They released mine eventually. What triggered their moderation is unclear but there it is, above.
Dickens was, as they say, ‘a man of his times’.
Why wasn’t Dickens able to find all the poor black kids from those times, that the BBC so readily unearths?
They hadn’t been sold into slavery by their chieftains until the Caribbean was at full quota.
‘Matthew Arnold described his contemporaries as “shutting their eyes and professing to believe what they do not… rushing blindly together in herds”.’
Plus ça change, etc…
This column is more a reflection of the writer’s mind than that of Dickens.
Few authors have given me more pleasure than Dickens.
Then there was the time that Dickens was sick at work at the blacking factory and the kid next to him, D*** Fagin, laid him down on the straw, and took him home after work.
Yeah, thanks Chuck, D*** Fagin might have said, for making me into a monstrous villain, Fagin, the receiver of stolen goods.
But hey, nobody’s perfect, right, Boris?
I’ll say it: Dickens is presumptively-imposed sadistic punishment on undeserving children.