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Write and Publish Fiction [This Network is not currently active and cannot accept new posts] | | Topics
the foresight of an unshakable optimist...Views: 166
Nov 28, 2008 10:41 pm re: the foresight of an unshakable optimist...

Diane Stephenson
It is good to know there others out there who appreciate Charles Dickens. I have loved his books from the time I started to read them. I am fortunate to have a set of his complete works including his letters home when he travelled to Italy and the U.S. etc. The set was published in 1908, and the binding is unfortunately falling apart, but that has not kept me from reading them all, some more than once or twice. I also have many of the BBC movie versions of Dickens and watch them over and over. They are some of my favourite movies.

Dickens had a talent to create and develop characters and caricatures that was outstanding. He created the serious, the ridiculous, the pitiable, the strong and the weak with such vivid writing that when a movie is cast with an actor who does not meet with my picture of the character, I am disappointed. One example of this is "The Old Curiosity Shop" starring Peter Ustenov, a wonderful actor, but not the tall, thin rather weak old man I had come to visualize while reading the book and seeing the illustrations.

I see fiction as a wonderful medium to teach and/or get a point across with great effect. People will often read fiction when they would not dream of reading a scholarly article, and will glean far more from it even if they did. Fiction draws the reader right into the story, and when well-written, as Dickens' books are, you feel as if you actually know the characters and you either love them or hate them. As the old saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover, but I truly believe you can judge it by the development of the characters as much as by the plot.

Most of Dickens stories, though often filled with tragic moments and lives, usually end up being very redemptive in character. He had the ability to take us right into the characters' minds, feel with them, cry and laugh with them. This is true talent. And it is the kind of story I love to read. If a fictional story does not touch me emotionally, I really do not enjoy it. I want to be taken, temporarily, out of my world and enter into the lives of unforgettable characters that have the potential to even change my real world. Who could ever forget Uriah Heap? Or Mr. Micawber? And who does not suffer with Little Nell as she escapes with her beloved grandfather from the terrifying Daniel Quilp? Though many of the atrocities Dickens exposed in his stories have been rectified for generations, these books are genuine classics that I am certain will endure.

Another author, a friend of Dickens, who I really enjoy, is Wilkie Collins. He wrote "The Woman in White" and "The Moonstone". The latter was the first modern detective story complete with a butler before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his Sherlock Holmes stories.

There is a world of literature that many people have never tapped into and are missing some of the most enjoyable reading to be found. I do read modern books, too, but my all-time favourites are those of Dickens, Jane Austin, the Brontes, Collins, etc. I would challenge anyone who loves to read to pick up any of these authors and let them take you into adventures in life seldom found in today's writing.

And I do agree with you, that writers like Dickens are truly an inspiration to those of us who write, an inspiration especially to observe closely the characters all around us, their successes, their failures, their foibles, their lovable points and their hateful behaviour. We certainly would do well to look to him as a role model to emulate in our own writing.

Happy writing and reading.

Diane Stephenson

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