Sunday, February 14, 2010

09Jun1870, Critique on Dickens

CHATSWORTH, June 9th, 1870.
Dickens has died suddenly of apoplexy, which struck him down yesterday evening after a day of literary work. (He was in the midst of a new novel : "Edwin Drood.") He never recovered consciousness, and died early this morning.
I have been reading "Little Dorrit" here, and enjoying the humour and observation of it, tho' it is one of his least good books. One feels a great blank in the world ; in some ways I should think he was an unsurpassed and unsurpassable novelist. Allowing for his irresistible genius for caricature, which prevents any one of his characters from being quite a possibility, can anyone ever come near him as to creativeness, knowledge of men, the humour which springs from close observation and sympathy? But there is one noble merit about his books in which I should fancy he stands absolutely alone among satirists, their perfect freedom from all impurity and irreverence. He and Mark Lemon (the Editor of Punch, who is also lately dead) were friends ; and all English people may be proud to think that the wit of two men who so influenced the country has ever been high-minded and unstained.

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