Friends of the Dickens Forum,
Others have expressed similar sentiments, but Susan Jhirad
<michaelandsusan01@comcast..net> has assembled
a number of recent animadversions on Dickens's character and speaks up
for a balanced view: (pjm)
> As we fondly remember Dickens and his efforts to help other wounded and dying passengers during the traumatic Staplehurst crash, I feel compelled to comment on the recent spate of “Dickens-bashing” articles and books that have emerged of late. First, the late Christopher Hitchens writing in *The Atlantic Monthly* in 2010, “The Dark Side of Dickens: Why Dickens was the best of authors and the worst of men.” Recently, also in *The Atlantic*, an article “Was Dickens a Thief?” implying that he not only “stole” the idea of *The Pickwick Papers* from the illustrator Robert Seymour, but that he was in some way responsible for Seymour’s suicide! Finally, recent books- Robert Gottlieb’s *Great Expectations*, focusing on the failures of Dickens’ children and tending towards blaming him as a bad father. Then, Lilian Nayder’s well researched but rather biased book *The Other Dickens*, again suggesting that Dickens was something of a monster towards his wonderful, talented wife and women in general. Now all biographers certainly agree, he treated Catherine badly at the end of their marriage, but there are many of us who are in no position to “cast stones” at those who leave unhappy marriages, or happen to fall in love with others.
> We all know Dickens was no saint, but was he really “the worst of men?” or for that matter, “the worst of fathers?” As Claire Tomalin notes in her excellent biography, “He loved children,” and took a deep and active interest in his own children, especially when they were young. Insofar as I have read, he had no adulterous affairs for most of his marriage (compare him, please, to Philip Roth or John Updike, for example!) Is anyone out there as disturbed as I by this recent trend towards “Dickens-bashing?”
> Susan Jhirad