The incredible Charles Dickens | Sunday Observer

The incredible Charles Dickens

18 October, 2020

Chopped into three books, viz. Recalled to Life, The Golden Thread and The Track of Storms, A Tale of Two Cities breezes through the unseen forces, sometimes collapsing into a paradoxical identity. The end is reached after careful seizing, grappling and absorbing the essence of an upshot rationale in turning a tale into a classic. Dickens does this with no imagination left. The classic's measurement of England is bared without limitation and compares revolutionary France as an example to Victorian England and also England as a potential France. Back again, France shows England what it could fall into.

Dickens set the space and moves on; examines the French Revolution more closely and it becomes impossible to discern. He revolves the story around people whose private lives come into being as the centre point for exploration and traces the authenticity of the subjects that took him a long period and enabled him to rise unscathed in their endeavour.

Perfect plot

The scenes of political violence in the book, and the various repetitions threaded into it, can be understood as Dickens' attempt to impart a feel of what he describes. If France apparently descended into chaos the story needed to evoke the sense of eternal recurrences which was a tricky situation for him. But Dickens' plot proves perfect for this purpose.

The same deliberate debasement can be described as his exemplary description of the escalating national frenzy and Dickens' attitude on whoever makes France their Republic is liable to swing and continued to reveal the same resilience.

Very few will disagree that Charles Dickens was the greatest writer gifted with the acute art of storytelling with a combination of historical facts and was an unsurpassed genius in his own chosen writing. He had the gift of peeping into the utmost crust of their feeling and the gift of evolving history based on his own observation and investigations on the private lives of a sect of people caught up in the cataclysm of the horrors of the French Revolution and which was later to become one of the greatest classics in our time. He made numerous visits to Paris in search of each and every minute detail that could shed light on the lead up and the aftermath of the French Revolution.

Collecting his own findings over the years, he wrote his final verdict on A Tale of Two Cities. Touching each and every heart that came by as he dug up for lost clues, the final poignant tale we read today, is of human suffering, self-sacrifice and redemption that lie as a stranglehold in our minds. It is not everyone who can absorb the philosophy of Dickens that made him write such tales.

In 1859 and after much procrastination, he seized his pen to go on a long voyage of discovery and self-discovery into history and human suffering of the era he had in mind. It was the best and bad times all rolled into the surviving passion that the nation was going through, people left with scars of war and numbed with expectations. Dickens did not confine himself to the realities of war but way beyond to the future as the dust settled.

First book

With the wealth of human worth which he portrayed with riches of character, he was the only English writer who could have risen to those heights. He wrote his last tale in 1864 and died in 1870. Dickens wrote his first sketch in 1833 and published his first book in 1836. The book was made of London scenes and life therein and contained the germs of all his writings until he died, literarily with a pen in his hand in 1870. The book was titled Everyday Life and Everyday People that was more of a summary on the materials he used from the beginning.

Dickens commenced his writing when he was twenty years, but behind him were a dozen years of experience that coloured all his stories. It gave an insight to the knowledge of life of the poor which comes from being poor himself. Naturally, he loathed the memory of those years of drudgery though he was born to high ambition. But, yet they were the years that gave him the picturing of a loving heart that everyday life was for every people.

Never interested in glamour, lordly romance or thrilling adventure, he was brimming with energies and boundless sympathies. With his writing, he expanded the sympathies, loyalties along with humour and quaintness; the pathos and wrongs and the prevailing goodness of simple, common people.

As he continued writing, gaining more experience with travelling and meeting new people, the book that won him great popularity was Pickwick Papers. Like his first book, it contained a series of sketches with no plot. Dickens himself did not know how the story would end. It dragged on to months as his fancy led him on but the characters in it captured the imagination of the readers.

Understanding of heart

Dickens was the writer who taught his generation the lesson of human understanding but cannot be compared to the modern writer who is incomparably more expert than him. With his pen he touched mankind with the age old lesson of the understanding of the heart. Having done thus, he moved to Oliver Twist that dealt with poor systems towards children which he attacked. In his third book, Nicholas Nicklery, he charged the authorities for their meanness and the incompetence found in boarding schools. Later, it resulted in Bleak House that it was the law's delay in clearing up the mess. Yet, what he wrote was to arouse his generation, increasing sadness. Some of his targets achieved some success as painfully the wrongs became rights. No other writer played through his writing the part of social reformer that Dickens played for mankind.

The organised humanity in these crusading attacks were clearly appealing not only to the poor but for some rich too.

Moving on to Great Expectations which is the best of his later tales and happens to be the one I like myself among his writing, Dickens put himself beyond even the efforts he was striving for still better reforms. Yet, how many of us know the real Charles Dickens, the genius who used his marvellous writing as a crusade for the underprivileged, the downtrodden, the ones who had no voice to cry out in agony? If ever there was such a writer, it was him.

And from such shadows emerged his greatest tale David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities was to follow. It was as if he was relating about himself as Copperfield and the very fact that he used his first two letters in the play as reverse, CD to DC (David Copperfield to Charles Dickens) is ample proof with passion and fury he raced through this book, his own autobiography.

Charles Dickens did not hesitate to use his writing as a powerful weapon to redeem children from slavery, widows from abuse and the poor from hunger.

With loneliness overtaking him, he had no option but to portray himself as the intense human being he was. He belonged to his age and had weaknesses, one being the overdone tendency to excessive sentiment that are scattered in his work. He made the readers weep together but the later generation sadly wanting in restraint. That was his signature.