Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday

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

Few writers are as iconic and well-known as Charles Dickens, whose works have enriched tens of millions of childhoods. I can’t imagine having grown up without the enchantment of his fantastic stories, which combined masterful prose, unforgettable characters, stark realism, and comedic wit. Needless to say, none of his published writings have ever gone out of print.

Most notably for me, Dickens nearly always weaved social commentary into his narratives: he was a fierce critic of the widespread poverty, inequality, and social stratification that defined his Victorian Era England. Indeed, his readers were so shocked by his portrayal of crime and urban decay, particularly in Oliver Twist, that it motivated efforts to clear up the real-life slums that he featured. His sympathy for the unfortunates of society made him the moral conscience of the public.

On an interesting, his most famous piece, A Christmas Carol, almost single-handedly redefined Christmas into what we know today. Through it, Dickens spearheaded efforts to transform the holiday into a family-centered celebration of generosity, festivity, and games. That alone is quite a legacy itself.

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else."

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