Well, whether it is the ideal life or not in the contemporary times, we know not. However, it is certainly true that good books are man’s greatest companions that are sure to comfort you during all odds. In India, thanks to the British rule, we have been subject to great European literary works since times immemorial. One such genius whose works we Indians simply love to read even now is Charles Dickens. Based on the stark realities of life, his novels are known to etch out the harshness and seamy aspects of London that almost none before him had tried to do.
Listed below are some of his masterpieces that we Indians don’t seem to get over—
5. Bleak House
Inarguably one of Dickens’ finest novels (but not among the most popular ones sadly) and our favorite one is his ninth novel Bleak House. Unlike most other novels, Bleak House is nowhere an industrial novel though it is entangled within a mesh of social restrictions and norms, which were indeed a major part of lives in those days. This novel may not be a part of every Indian child’s “growing up”, but it is indeed a memorable novel that we Indians love to read again and again.
4. Hard Times
Published right after Bleak House with Hard Times, Dickens again returns to his comfort zone surrounding social reforms, the aftermath of industrialization, the contemporary haywire education system and, of course, the utilitarianism that was borne out of industrialization. Although the novel was dismissed as being a mere social criticism at first, with the famous critic F. R. Leavis terming it as a “masterpiece”, the novel indeed created a rage back in those days—a rage that is still on even centuries later!
3. A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens’ twelfth novel, A Tale of Two Cities, seem to be one of the favorites of everyone who has had a taste of Dickensian writing once! What mesmerized the audience is the shifting narrative and its setting—the novel was set in Paris and London with the industrial revolution as its backdrop. One of the most admirable things about this novel is the first sentence which is regarded as one of the best ever in world literature. It is as follows:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
2. David Copperfield
Now here comes one of Dickens’ most popular and great works. That Dickens was a master of weaving biographies instilled with a social message and adventure can be well understood by reading this novel which has indeed been a part of all our growing up!
1. The Adventures of Oliver Twist
One of the best, most admirable and, of course, most read works of Dickens, TheAdventures of Oliver Twist, or simply, Oliver Twist (subtitled The Parish Boy’s Progress) takes us on a whirlwind journey through the seamier aspects of London and the dreary industrialized alleys that none of us will forget in a lifetime. And, for one more time, we see a rogue as a hero of a novel—isn’t that simply laudable?