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Thread: Dickens' influence on society

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Dickens' influence on society

    How influential was Charles Dickens on society in the countries in which he was read? He seemed to be more than a popular author. He was a campaigner on social issues. The 19th century was one of great change and great social reform. For example, at the start of that century, you might be executed for dozens of not particularly serious offences. By the end of the century, you would only be hanged for premeditated murder. I don't think that had much to do with Dickens, but perhaps there were others issues in which he was more influential. For instance, children started to get some rights, including state provided education by the 1870s. Divorce laws were loosened just a little bit. Dickens was very widely read. He was part of the school syllabus by the early 1900's.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User hannah_arendt's Avatar
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    In Poland children should read "Christmas Carol". At university (English Philology) only "Great Expectations", well mostly but it depends on the lecturer. I don`t think whether he had any impact on polish writters.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I was thinking more of his influence on society rather than on other writers. I doubt many modern writers would have as much influence today on the development of society as those in the 19th century and earlier, partly because there are more authors around today. I expect those modern authors who are influential write non-fiction. Those fiction writers from the 20th century who were influential on society included George Orwell (of course), Ayn Rand, and possibly John Steinbeck. I suspect Dickens was very influential, but I think society was moving in that direction anyway.

    Come to think of it, I watched a television programme recently about Scottish history. The presenter said Sir Walter Scott had a profound influence on Scottish society, for example all the kilts and tartans, tossing the caber and that sort of thing. The presenter (Neil Oliver) also said that his influence also helped spare Scottish highlanders the worst consequence of potato blight that caused such famine in Ireland. Middle class Scottish citizens, who had grown up reading Scott's romantic stories, were generous in helping their Highlander countrymen get survive the famine. I don't know how true that is.
    Last edited by kev67; 11-25-2013 at 12:39 PM.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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