Charles Dickens

The New Secular Puritan Covenant

Thanksgiving brings back memories for Americans of the Pilgrims and Puritans, carrying out their “errand into the wilderness” to build a “city on a hill,” surviving that first bleak Massachusetts winter of 1620-21. As a kid, I remember that cutting out Puritan hats from black construction paper and taping them to the school windows was [...]

The Unsolved Mystery of Mr. Dickens

June 9, 1870. Charles Dickens sat writing at his desk. He had been laboring more than was his custom on his latest book. Though the story was progressing well, Mr. Dickens was not feeling well. His left hand clawed at the air. His left foot dragged on the ground. And though he had recently retired [...]

Catholic Thoughts on A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’s 1843 Christmas Carol was the beginning of a series of annual “Christmas books” that were very popular gifts in the Victorian era. But while many today treat A Christmas Carol as a child’s holiday story, it is anything but … and it makes many Catholic points. Some might disagree. Jesus is only obliquely mentioned [...]

Charles Dickens’ Hard Times: The Usefulness of Useless Things

“The Child is father of the Man,” wrote William Wordsworth, marveling at the enchantment of the child’s early experience and delight in play. The formative period of childhood cultivates in the young a love of life, a sense of adventure, and an imaginative world filled with wonder. As the child in Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden [...]

The Man Who Saved Christmas

In The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits, author Les Standiford points out that in the publication year of A Christmas Carol, 1843—written when Dickens was only 31—“there were no Christmas cards, no Christmas trees at royal residences or White Houses, no Christmas [...]

Gravediggers, Goblins, and How Dickens Discovered Christmas

Christmas has become a humbug. Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge was a sour soothsayer for our times. By and large, Christmas is a humbug these days. It preaches peace, but breeds pressure. The ritual of the mall stands in for the ritual of the Mass. Santa Claus is not really Saint Nicholas. The holidays are not really [...]

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

“Now what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.” With this dogmatic and militaristic monologue [...]

The Chimes by Charles Dickens

A hard year. But listen! Pick yourselves up. The voice of Time cries to man, Advance! A hard year still! A year to fill the mouth of Time with lamentation. Dare we turn back? The Boston bombers. The Cleveland kidnapper. The Jodi Arias Murder Trial. The demise of DOMA. The NSA scandal. Syrian civil war. [...]

Dickens’ Forgotten Christmas Tale: The Haunted Man

Everyone knows Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story A Christmas Carol. It is, arguably, one of the Victorian author’s most permanent masterpieces, adorning Christmas celebrations in every corner of the English-speaking world, and making the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Cratchit family household names. Modern audiences have seen it adapted for television and film in [...]

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

It is a true truism that art imitates life. We might be struck anew by the freshness underlying this proverb if we consider the type of all imitation, the mimicry of a child. Children immediately fix on an animal’s salient characteristics then exaggerate them. Despite their best intentions, and the windows being up, adults will [...]

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Ignorance and Want: “…no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade… has monsters half so horrible and dread.” Leave it to Mr. Dickens to capture the demons of fallen nature and fallen society without taming them. This is a single instance in a multitude why A Christmas Carol is no Hallmark affair to be [...]

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