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Charles Dickens

Date de naissance: 7. février 1812
Date de décès: 9. juin 1870

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Charles John Huffam Dickens , né à Landport , près de Portsmouth, dans le Hampshire, le 7 février 1812 et mort à Gad's Hill Place à Higham dans le Kent, le 9 juin 1870 , est considéré comme le plus grand romancier de l'époque victorienne. Dès ses premiers écrits, il est devenu immensément célèbre, sa popularité ne cessant de croître au fil de ses publications.

L'expérience marquante de son enfance, que certains considèrent comme la clef de son génie, a été, peu avant l'incarcération de son père pour dettes à la Marshalsea, son embauche à douze ans chez Warren où il a collé des étiquettes sur des pots de cirage pendant plus d'une année. Bien qu'il soit retourné presque trois ans à l'école, son éducation est restée sommaire et sa grande culture est essentiellement due à ses efforts personnels.

Il a fondé et publié plusieurs hebdomadaires, composé quinze romans majeurs, cinq livres de moindre envergure , des centaines de nouvelles et d'articles portant sur des sujets littéraires ou de société. Sa passion pour le théâtre l'a poussé à écrire et mettre en scène des pièces, jouer la comédie et faire des lectures publiques de ses œuvres qui, lors de tournées souvent harassantes, sont vite devenues extrêmement populaires en Grande-Bretagne et aux États-Unis.

Charles Dickens a été un infatigable défenseur du droit des enfants, de l'éducation pour tous, de la condition féminine et de nombreuses autres causes, dont celle des prostituées.

Il est apprécié pour son humour, sa satire des mœurs et des caractères. Ses œuvres ont presque toutes été publiées en feuilletons hebdomadaires ou mensuels, genre inauguré par lui-même en 1836 : ce format est contraignant mais il permet de réagir rapidement, quitte à modifier l'action et les personnages en cours de route. Les intrigues sont soignées et s'enrichissent souvent d'événements contemporains, même si l'histoire se déroule antérieurement.

Publié en 1843, Un chant de Noël a connu un vaste retentissement international, et l'ensemble de son œuvre a été loué par des écrivains de renom, comme William Makepeace Thackeray, Léon Tolstoï, Gilbert Keith Chesterton ou George Orwell, pour son réalisme, son esprit comique, son art de la caractérisation et l'acuité de sa satire. Certains, cependant, comme Charlotte Brontë, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde ou Henry James, lui ont reproché de manquer de régularité dans le style, de privilégier la veine sentimentale et de se contenter d'analyses psychologiques superficielles.

Dickens a été traduit en de nombreuses langues, avec son aval pour les premières versions françaises. Son œuvre, constamment rééditée, connaît toujours de nombreuses adaptations au théâtre, au cinéma, au music-hall, à la radio et à la télévision.

Citations Charles Dickens

„Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.“

— Charles Dickens
Context: Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused — in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened — by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes — of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire — fill the glass and send round the song — and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse. Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father’s heart, and roused the mother’s pride to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust, sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart. Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one! Characters, Ch. 2 : A Christmas Dinner

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„He was not unamiable, but he could at any time have viewed the execution of a dog, or the assassination of an infant, with the liveliest satisfaction. Their habits were at variance with his love of order; and his love of order, was as powerful as his love of life.“

— Charles Dickens
Context: There were two classes of created objects which he held in the deepest and most unmingled horror: they were, dogs and children. He was not unamiable, but he could at any time have viewed the execution of a dog, or the assassination of an infant, with the liveliest satisfaction. Their habits were at variance with his love of order; and his love of order, was as powerful as his love of life. "A Dinner at Poplar Walk" (1833), later published as "Mr. Minns and his Cousin"

„Mr. Augustus Minns was a bachelor, of about forty as he said — of about eight-and-forty as his friends said.“

— Charles Dickens
Context: Mr. Augustus Minns was a bachelor, of about forty as he said — of about eight-and-forty as his friends said. He was always exceedingly clean, precise, and tidy: perhaps somewhat priggish, and the most retiring man in the world. First lines of Dicken's first published work, originally titled "A Dinner at Poplar Walk" (1833), later published as "Mr. Minns and his Cousin"

„I put a New Testament among your books, for the very same reasons, and with the very same hopes that made me write an easy account of it for you, when you were a little child; because it is the best book that ever was or will be known in the world,“

— Charles Dickens
Context: I put a New Testament among your books, for the very same reasons, and with the very same hopes that made me write an easy account of it for you, when you were a little child; because it is the best book that ever was or will be known in the world, and because it teaches you the best lessons by which any human creature who tries to be truthful and faithful to duty can possibly be guided. As your brothers have gone away, one by one, I have written to each such words as I am now writing to you, and have entreated them all to guide themselves by this book, putting aside the interpretations and inventions of men. Letter to Edward Dickens (26 September 1868), published in [http://books.google.com.br/books?id=NJH1g1i4gnIC&printsec=frontcover&hl=pt-BR#v=onepage&q&f=false The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens], Edited by Jenny Hartley

„It is strange with how little notice, good, bad, or indifferent, a man may live and die in London.“

— Charles Dickens
Context: It is strange with how little notice, good, bad, or indifferent, a man may live and die in London. He awakens no sympathy in the breast of any single person; his existence is a matter of interest to no one save himself; he cannot be said to be forgotten when he dies, for no one remembered him when he was alive. There is a numerous class of people in this great metropolis who seem not to possess a single friend, and whom nobody appears to care for. Urged by imperative necessity in the first instance, they have resorted to London in search of employment, and the means of subsistence. It is hard, we know, to break the ties which bind us to our homes and friends, and harder still to efface the thousand recollections of happy days and old times, which have been slumbering in our bosoms for years, and only rush upon the mind, to bring before it associations connected with the friends we have left, the scenes we have beheld too probably for the last time, and the hopes we once cherished, but may entertain no more. These men, however, happily for themselves, have long forgotten such thoughts. Old country friends have died or emigrated; former correspondents have become lost, like themselves, in the crowd and turmoil of some busy city; and they have gradually settled down into mere passive creatures of habit and endurance. Characters, Ch. 1 : Thoughts About People

„Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused — in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened — by the recurrence of Christmas.“

— Charles Dickens
Context: Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused — in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened — by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes — of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire — fill the glass and send round the song — and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse. Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father’s heart, and roused the mother’s pride to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust, sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart. Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one! Characters, Ch. 2 : A Christmas Dinner

„Love is not a feeling to pass away,
Like the balmy breath of a summer day;
It is not — it cannot be — laid aside;
It is not a thing to forget or hide.“

— Charles Dickens
Context: p>Love is not a feeling to pass away, Like the balmy breath of a summer day; It is not — it cannot be — laid aside; It is not a thing to forget or hide. It clings to the heart, ah, woe is me! As the ivy clings to the old oak tree.Love is not a passion of earthly mould, As a thirst for honour, or fame, or gold: For when all these wishes have died away, The deep strong love of a brighter day, Though nourished in secret, consumes the more, As the slow rust eats to the iron’s core.</p Lucy's Song in The Village Coquettes (1836); later published in The Poems and Verses of Charles Dickens (1903)

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