Published: 09th June 2021
#ThrowbackToday: What the Dickens! It's been 151 years since we lost the writer who gave us Scrooge!
In today's #TBT, we recall British writer Charles Dickens, his work, his racism and the connection that he shares with India. Here is what you ought to know about one of the most notable writers
It is difficult to imagine anyone having grown up without experiencing the works of Charles Dickens. Whether it's in the form of his original books or when his stories are adapted into movies, sitcoms and such. He gave us Scrooge the terrible via his story A Christmas Carol, after all!
What's most striking about the work of this English author is that he wrote about the helpless and the hapless more often than others cared too. So much so that we have a term named after it. 'Dickensian' is used to describe deplorable social conditions similar to the ones this author often wrote about. Full points for being sympathetic. But wait! Just like most authors of his time, he believed in the supremacy of Europeans over 'primitive' cultures. It doesn't stop there, he believed in their assimilation into the Western culture and justified their colonisation too. Sigh. Can't separate the art from the artist now, can we?
Dickens has a connection to India too! Well, technically, his son does. Amongst the hustle and bustle of Kolkata's South Park Street Cemetery is the tombstone of Walter Landon Dickens, his second son. Dickens Junior was a cadet with East India Company and died of aortic aneurysm.
Dicken himself was hard at work on his book series The Mystery of Edwin Drood when he passed away due to a stroke on June 9, 1870.
PS: The term 'What the Dickens', doesn't have anything to do with Charles Dickens, though it does evoke his memory. It is a term that existed even before Shakespeare. It is estimated that it evolved due to the similar-sounding word 'devilkins'. So when you say, 'What the Dickens!', you are actually saying, 'What the devil'!