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MikeK
07-08-2006, 05:39 PM
Coming to the Orwell board for the first time I was pleasantly surprised to see that there is a whole section dedicated to his Dickens essay. Orwell's essay on Dickens is probably the best explanation of Dickens that I've ever read, and shows that Orwell's insight was not limited to political and social matters but extended to literature as well. A few of my favorite highlights from his essay:

- Orwell describes Dickens' outlook on life (as represented in Dickens' writing) as: "If men would behave decently, the world would be decent." A perfect synopsis of Dickens, I think.

- Continuing somewhat in the same vein as the above quote Orwell says of Dickens, "...he would not regard a battlefield as a place where anything worth settiling could be settled."

- Again, along the same lines as the above quotes, Orwell is describing Dickens as someone who is not a 'political activist' in any sense of the word: "It seems that in every attack Dickens makes upon society he is always pointing to a change of spirit rather than a change of structure. It is hopeless to try and pin him down to any definite remedy, still more to any political doctrine. His approach is always along the moral plane,...Useless to change institutions without a 'change of heart' - that, essentially, is what he is always saying."

- Describing Dickens on the whole (in a paragraph that gave us one of Orwell's most famous phrases) he says that Dickens' face: "...is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry - in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls." (The 'smelly little orthodoxies' line is the one I was referencing.)

The Atheist
05-21-2007, 01:46 AM
Coming to the Orwell board for the first time I was pleasantly surprised to see that there is a whole section dedicated to his Dickens essay. Orwell's essay on Dickens is probably the best explanation of Dickens that I've ever read, and shows that Orwell's insight was not limited to political and social matters but extended to literature as well.

Amen to that - the only things I've ever gotten from Dickens are courtesy of Orwell.

Pity so few people have much interest in the essay.

Mopey Droney
12-17-2008, 11:22 PM
"It seems that in every attack Dickens makes upon society he is always pointing to a change of spirit rather than a change of structure. It is hopeless to try and pin him down to any definite remedy, still more to any political doctrine. His approach is always along the moral plane,...Useless to change institutions without a 'change of heart' - that, essentially, is what he is always saying."
Orwell was never more dead on! I like his essays more than his fiction, and the Dickens essay is a perfect example of why.