From the Boston Globe:
Dickens is not in vogue these days. He is no longer the staple in humanities courses on this side of the Atlantic that he once was. And yet, asserts Peter Ackroyd, the distinguished British author and Dickens specialist, “Charles Dickens is the greatest novelist in the English language.”
Big words. Fighting words. Henry James addicts will moan — maybe the odd Faulkner fanatic, too — but Ackroyd is on solid ground. At the very least, Dickens is the greatest storyteller in the English language, if not its greatest stylist. His command of his time, early Victorian England, is peerless from top to bottom. His eye for its cruelties is acute. His themes of lost innocence and struggle — “The Battle of Life,” in his own words — are timeless.
The three hour BBC special on Dickens aired last night. And I was in the kitchen. Sniff.
Is it really the case that people don’t read Dickens anymore? I love the guy. Look at this page from the Pickwick manuscript. I can’t imagine the kind of mind that could write David Copperfield or Great Expectations or any of the others by hand, on paper. Yikes.