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Charles Dickens


  1. Read the text and find the answers to the following questions:

· What was Dickens’ childhood experience?

· What is Dickens’ popularity due to?

· What are the main topics of Dickens’ works?

· Why is Dickens called a grotesque novelist?



Charles Dickens is recognized as one of the greatest writers of the Victorian period, but his life was far from ideal. His experience in the Blacking Factory as a boy, his family's imprisonment in Marshalsea Prison, and his experience as a journalist--nicknamed "Boz"--provided him with a wealth of material for his creative imagination.

In "Bleak House" (1853), Dickens attacks the abuses of the Court of Chancery and satirizes government red tape. In "Hard Times" (1854), he attacks the deadly ugliness of the industrial society. In "Little Dorrit" (1857), we read an unforgettable depiction of old Marshalsea prison and we begin to understand the degradation of imprisonment for debt. In "Oliver Twist," Dickens dramatizes the plight of children, who were forced into the poor house, or into the hands of men like Fagin and Bill Sykes.

Dickens' popularity, in his own day and since, is due chiefly: (1) to his intense human sympathy; (2) to his unsurpassed emotional and dramatic power; and (3) to his humanitarian zeal for the reform of all evils and abuses, whether they weigh upon the oppressed classes or upon helpless individuals. The pathos and tragedy of their experiences--aged and honest toilers subjected to pitiless task-masters or to the yoke of social injustice; lonely women uncomplainingly sacrificing their lives for unworthy men; sad-faced children, the victims of circumstances, of cold-blooded parents, or of the worst criminals--these things play a large part in almost all of Dickens' books.

No other English author has approached Dickens in the number of characters whom he has created; his twenty novels present literally thousands of persons, almost all thoroughly human. Their range is of course very great, though it never extends successfully into the 'upper' social classes because Dickens was violently prejudiced against the nobility and against all persons of high social standing.

One of his great elements of strength is his sense of humor, which has created an almost unlimited number of delightful scenes and characters; but it very generally becomes riotous and so ends in sheer farce and caricature, as the names of many of the characters suggest at the outset. Indeed Dickens has been rightly designated a grotesque novelist--the greatest of all grotesque novelists.



imprisonment – тюремное заключение

court of Chancery – суд лорда-канцлера

red tape – бюрократия

depiction – изображение

plight – плачевное состояние

unsurpassed – непревзойденный

zeal – старание, усердие

outset – начало

"Bleak House" – «Холодный дом»

"Little Dorrit" – «Крошка Доррит»



  1. Look through the text again and find words and constructions you may use in your professional discourse (scientific terms etc.). Translate and memorize them.
  2. Find the transcription of the following words and practise pronouncing them: weigh, yoke, riotous, grotesque, thoroughly.
  3. Decide whether the following statements are true or false according to the text:

· Dickens was critical of the industrial society.

· Dickens wrote more than any other English writer.

· Dickens had much sympathy for people of all social classes.

· Dickens’ works are altogether pathetic and serious.


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