[D] Charles Dickens is probably the best-known and, to many people, the greatest English novelist of the 19th century. A moralist, satirist, and social reformer, Dickens crafted complex plots and striking characters that capture the panorama of English society.
41、[F] Dickens was born in Portsmouth, on England's southern coast. His father was a clerk in the British Navy Pay office -- a respectable position, but with little social status. His paternal grandparents, a steward and a housekeeper, possessed even less status, having been servants, and Dickens later concealed their background. Dicken's mother supposedly came from a more respectable family. Yet two years before Dicken's birth, his mother's father was caught stealing and fled to Europe, never to return. The family's increasing poverty forced Dickens out of school at age 12 to work in Warren's Blacking Warehouse, a shoe-polish factory, where the other working boys mocked him as "the young gentleman." His father was then imprisoned for debt. The humiliations of his father's imprisonment and his labor in the blacking factory formed Dickens's greatest wound and became his deepest secret. He could not confide them even to his wife, although they provide the unacknowledged foundation of his fiction.
42、[E]Soon after his father's release from prison, Dickens got a better job as errand boy in law offices. He taught himself shorthand to get an even better job later as a court stenographer and as a reporter in Parliament. At the same time, Dickens, who had a reporter's eye for transcribing the life around him, especially anything comic or odd, submitted short sketches to obscure magazines.
43、[A] The first published sketch, "A Dinner at Polar Walk" brought tears to Dickens's eyes when he discovered it in the pages of The Monthly Magazine From then on his sketches, which appeared under the pen name "Boz" in The Evening Chronicle, earned him a modest reputation.
44、[C] Soon after Sketches by Boz appeared, a publishing firm approached Dickens to write a story in monthly installments, as a backdrop for a series of woodcuts by the then-famous artist Robert Seymour, who had originated the idea for the story. With characteristic confidence, Dickens successfully insisted that Seymour's pictures illustrate his own story instead. After the first installment, Dickens wrote to the artist and asked him to correct a drawing Dickens felt, was not faithful enough to his prose. Seymour made the change, went into his backyard, and expressed his displeasure by committing suicide. Dickens and his publishers simply pressed on with a new artist. The comic novel, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, appeared serially in 1836 and 1837 and was first published in book form in 1837.
[B] The runaway success of The Pickwick Papers, as it is generally known today, secured Dickens's fame. There werePickwick coats and Pickwick cigars, and the plump, spectacled hero, Samuel Pickwick, because a national figure.
45、[G] After Pickwick, Dickens plunged into a bleaker world. In Oliver Twist, he traces an orphan's progress from the workhouse to the criminal slums of London. Nicholas Nickleby, his next novel, combines the darkness of Oliver Twist with the sunlight of Pickwick. The popularity of these novels consolidated Dickens' as a nationally and internationally celebrated man of letters.