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自考《英美文学选读》(英)维多利亚时期(2)

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  I.Charles Dickens

  1. 一般识记 His Life & Literary Career

  Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was born at Portsmouth. His father, a poor clerk in the Navy Pay office, was put into the Marsalsea Prison for debt when young Charles was only 12 years old. The son had to give up schooling to work in an underground cellar at a shoe-blacking factory - a position he considered most humiliating. We find the bitter experiences of that suffering child reflected in many of Dickens's novels. In 1827, Charles entered a lawyer's office, & two years later he became a Parliamentary reporter for newspapers. From 1833 Dickens began to write occasional sketches of London life, which were later collected & published under the title Sketches by Boz (1836)。 Soon The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836-1837) appeared in monthly installments. And since then, his life became one of endless hard work. In his later years, he gave himself to public readings of his works, which brought plaudits & comfort but also exhausted him. In 1870, this man of great heart & vitality died of overwork, leaving his last novel unfinished.

  2. 识记His Major Works

  Upon his death, Dickens left to the world a rich legacy of 15 novels & a number of short stories. They offer a most complete & realistic picture of English society of his age & remain the highest achievement in the 19th-century English novel. In nearly all his novels, behind the gloomy pictures of oppression & poverty, behind the loud humor & buffoonery, is his gentleness, his genial mirth, & his simple faith in mankind.

  The following is a list of his novels & other collections in three periods:

  (1) Period of youthful optimist

  Sketches by Boz (1836); The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836-1837); Oliver Twist (1837-1838); Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839); The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1841); Barnaby Rudge(1841)

  (2) Period of excitement & irritation

  American Notes (1842); Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-1845); A Christmas Carol (1843); Dombey & Son (1846-1848); David Copperfield (1849-1850)

  (3) Period of steadily intensifying pessimism

  Bleak House (1852-1853); Hard Times (1854); Little Dorrit (1855-1857); A Tale of Two Cities (1859); Great Expectations (1860-1861); Our Mutual Friend (1864-1865); Edwin Drood (unfinished)(1870)

  3. 领会 Distinct Features of His Novels

  (1) Character Sketches & Exaggeration

  In his novels are found about 19 hundred figures, some of whom are really such " typical characters under typical circumstances," that they become proverbial or representative of a whole group of similar persons.

  As a master of characterization, Dickens was skillful in drawing vivid caricatural sketches by exaggerating some peculiarities, & in giving them exactly the actions & words that fit them: that is, right words & right actions for the right person.

  (2) Broad Humor & Penetrating Satire

  Dickens is well known as a humorist as well as a satirist. He sometimes employs humor to enliven a scene or lighten a character by making it (him or her) eccentric, whimsical, or laughable. Sometimes he uses satire to ridicule human follies or vices, with the purpose of laughing them out of existence or bring about reform.

  (3) Complicated & Fascinating Plot

  Dickens seems to love complicated novel constructions with minor plots beside the major one, or two parallel major plots within one novel. He is also skillful at creating suspense & mystery to make the story fascinating.

  (4) The Power of Exposure

  As the greatest representative of English critical realism, Dickens made his novel the instrument of morality & justice. Each of his novels reveals a specific social problem.

  4. 领会 His Literary Creation & Literary Achievements

  Charles Dickens is one of the greatest critical realistic writers of the Victorian Age. It is his serious intention to expose & criticize in his works all the poverty, injustice, hypocrisy & corruptness he saw all around him. In his works, Dickens sets a full map & a large-scale criticism of the 19th-century England, particularly London. A combination of optimism about people & realism about society is obvious in these works. His representative works in the early period include Oliver Twist, David Copperfield & so on.

  His later works show a highly conscious modern artist. The settings are more complicated; the stories are better structured. Most novels of this period present a sharper criticism of social evils & morals of the Victorian England, for example, Bleak House, Hard Times, Great Expectations & so on. The early optimism could no more be found.

  Charles Dickens is a master story-teller. His language could, in a way, be compared with Shakespeare's. His humor & wit seem inexhaustible. Character-portrayal is the most outstanding feature of his works. His characterizations of child (Oliver Twist, etc.), some grotesque people (Fagin, etc.) & some comical people (Mr. Micawber, etc.) are superb. Dickens also employs exaggeration in his works. Dickens's works are also characterized by a mixture of humor & pathos.

  5. 应用 Selected Reading

  An Excerpt from Chapter III of Oliver Twist


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