“Henry never wrote or spoke in public of these matters. His reminisces about his father, which appeared in 1928, were outspoken about other things: his father’s moods of depression and irritability, and the resentment of his brothers at the strict discipline imposed on them at home. “He also mentioned his father’s strongly radical political views’ and his laughing suggestion, mentioned earlier, that, ‘his sympathies being so much with the French, he ought to have been born a Frenchman’. A French Dickens defies the conventional view of him as an English national treasure, and he is that, but he is also something much wider. The whole world knows Dickens, his London and his characters. ‘All his characters are my personal friends’, said Tolstoy, who kept his portrait hanging in his study and declared him to be the greatest novelist of the nineteenth century.
He left a trail like a meteor, and everyone finds their own version of Charles Dickens. The child-victim, the irrepressibly ambitious young man, the reporter, the demonic worker, the tireless walker. The radical, the protector of orphans, the helper of the needy, man of good works, the republican. The hater and the lover of America. The giver of parties, the magician, the traveller. The satirist, the surrealist, the mesmerist. The angry son, the good friend, the bad husband, the quarreller, the sentimentalist, the secret lover, the despairing father. The Francophile, the player of games, the lover of circuses, the maker of punch, the country squire, the editor, the Chief, the smoker, the drinker, the dancer of reels and hornpipes, the actor, the ham. Too mixed to be a gentleman -but wonderful. The irreplaceable and unrepeatable Boz. The brilliance in the room. The inimitable. And, above and beyond every other description, simply the great, hard-working writer, who set nineteenth-century London before our eyes and who noticed and celebrated the small people living on the margins of society -the Artful Dodger, Smike, the Marchioness, Nell, Barnaby, Micawber, Mr Dic, Jo the crossing sweeper, Phil Squod, Miss Flite, Sissy Jupe, Charley, Amy Dorrit, Nandy, hairless Maggie, Sloppy, Jenny Wren the dolls’ dressmaker. After he had been writing for long hours at Wellington Street, he would sometimes ask his office boy to bring him a bucket of cold water and put his head into it, and his hands. Then he would dry his head with a towel and go on writing.”
Charles Dickens: a life
**** Otro pilar de mi proyecto Dickens de autodidacticismo y autogozo (esto último suena a otra cosa). La apabullante biografía de Claire Tomalin. Un claro BBS (Best Book of the Summer).