Famous Dickens Quotes

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Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of good looks.
Charles Dickens
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.
Charles Dickens (David Copperfield)
Writing a novel— actually picking the words and filling in paragraphs— is a tremendous pain in the ass. Now that TV’s so good and the Internet is an endless forest of distraction, it’s damn near impossible. That should be taken into account when ranking the all-time greats. Somebody like Charles Dickens, for example, who had nothing better to do except eat mutton and attend public hangings, should get very little credit.
Steve Hely (How I Became a Famous Novelist)
Picasso wasn’t in conflict, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. He said, Scram! I need to work, and his mistresses and their spawn ran for the hills. Dickens wasn’t in conflict. He had ten children and wrote as many novels in almost as many years, because it was both understood and appreciated that he was gifted, famous, and rich. The male artist has always been respected.
Kate Mulgrew (Born with Teeth)
Dickens must have first heard his famous The law is an ass quote from a woman. And she was damned right, for all the good it did her.
Moriah Densley (Song For Sophia (Rougemont, #1))
Just about the only affliction Mesmerism seemed powerless to cure was the one that plagued Dickens the most: asthma. So he found relief the old-fashioned way: He took opium.
Robert Schnakenberg (Secret Lives of Great Authors: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Famous Novelists, Poets, and Playwrights)
There is a splendid clock upon the staircase, famous, as splendid clocks not often are, for its accuracy.
Charles Dickens (Bleak House (AmazonClassics Edition))
Not surprisingly, Dickens was also something of a neat freak. He brushed his thinning hair hundreds of times a day, even whipping out a comb in the middle of a dinner party if he sensed a single strand out of place.
Robert Schnakenberg (Secret Lives of Great Authors: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Famous Novelists, Poets, and Playwrights)
It is the simplest phrase you can imagine,” Favreau said, “three monosyllabic words that people say to each other every day.” But the speech etched itself in rhetorical lore. It inspired music videos and memes and the full range of reactions that any blockbuster receives online today, from praise to out-of-context humor to arch mockery. Obama’s “Yes, we can” refrain is an example of a rhetorical device known as epistrophe, or the repetition of words at the end of a sentence. It’s one of many famous rhetorical types, most with Greek names, based on some form of repetition. There is anaphora, which is repetition at the beginning of a sentence (Winston Churchill: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields”). There is tricolon, which is repetition in short triplicate (Abraham Lincoln: “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people”). There is epizeuxis, which is the same word repeated over and over (Nancy Pelosi: “Just remember these four words for what this legislation means: jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs”). There is diacope, which is the repetition of a word or phrase with a brief interruption (Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”) or, most simply, an A-B-A structure (Sarah Palin: “Drill baby drill!”). There is antithesis, which is repetition of clause structures to juxtapose contrasting ideas (Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”). There is parallelism, which is repetition of sentence structure (the paragraph you just read). Finally, there is the king of all modern speech-making tricks, antimetabole, which is rhetorical inversion: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” There are several reasons why antimetabole is so popular. First, it’s just complex enough to disguise the fact that it’s formulaic. Second, it’s useful for highlighting an argument by drawing a clear contrast. Third, it’s quite poppy, in the Swedish songwriting sense, building a hook around two elements—A and B—and inverting them to give listeners immediate gratification and meaning. The classic structure of antimetabole is AB;BA, which is easy to remember since it spells out the name of a certain Swedish band.18 Famous ABBA examples in politics include: “Man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men.” —Benjamin Disraeli “East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other.” —Ronald Reagan “The world faces a very different Russia than it did in 1991. Like all countries, Russia also faces a very different world.” —Bill Clinton “Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” —George W. Bush “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.” —Hillary Clinton In particular, President John F. Kennedy made ABBA famous (and ABBA made John F. Kennedy famous). “Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind,” he said, and “Each increase of tension has produced an increase of arms; each increase of arms has produced an increase of tension,” and most famously, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Antimetabole is like the C–G–Am–F chord progression in Western pop music: When you learn it somewhere, you hear it everywhere.19 Difficult and even controversial ideas are transformed, through ABBA, into something like musical hooks.
Derek Thompson (Hit Makers: Why Things Become Popular)
Little did Dickens know when he finished A Christmas Carol after just six weeks of feverish writing that this brief story would become one of his most famous works. Though the story was successful as soon as it was published on December 19, 1843, Dickens bolstered its renown further by choosing to perform it aloud when he began touring in 1853. His name became synonymous with Christmas in England to the extent that, after his death in 1870, some feared the holiday would become culturally obsolete
Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
In his famous entry into the “travel wars,” for example, Charles Dickens scoffed at southerners who told him that public opinion curtailed the mistreatment of slaves. “Public opinion!” Dickens jeered in his American Notes. “Why, public opinion in the slave States is slavery, is it not? … Public opinion has made the laws,” while at the same time “public opinion threatens the abolitionist with death, if he ventures to the South; and drags him with a rope about his middle, in broad unblushing noon, through the first city in the East”—an allusion to the Boston mob of 1835.6
W. Caleb McDaniel (The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World))
Charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all. It is somewhat amusing, indeed, to notice the difference between the fate of these three paradoxes in the fashion of the modern mind. Charity is a fashionable virtue in our time; it is lit up by the gigantic firelight of Dickens. Hope is a fashionable virtue to-day; our attention has been arrested for it by the sudden and silver trumpet of Stevenson. But faith is unfashionable, and it is customary on every side to cast against it the fact that it is a paradox. Everybody mockingly repeats the famous childish definition that faith is “the power of believing that which we know to be untrue.” Yet it is not one atom more paradoxical than hope or charity. Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and, eclipse. It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them. For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.
G.K. Chesterton (Heretics)
People feel ashamed of being depressed, they feel they should snap out of it, they feel weak and inadequate. Of course, these feelings are symptoms of the disease. Depression is a grave and life-threatening illness, much more common than we recognize. As far as the depressive being weak or inadequate, let me drop some names of famous depressives: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sigmund Freud. Terry Bradshaw, Drew Carey, Billy Joel, T. Boone Pickens, J. K. Rowling, Brooke Shields, Mike Wallace. Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville, Mark Twain.
Richard O'Connor (Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You)
No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; it was up in the moon before it could speak distinctly.  No little Gradgrind had ever learnt the silly jingle, Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are!  No little Gradgrind had ever known wonder on the subject, each little Gradgrind having at five years old dissected the Great Bear like a Professor Owen, and driven Charles’s Wain like a locomotive engine-driver.  No little Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow with the crumpled horn who tossed the dog who worried the cat who killed the rat who ate the malt, or with that yet more famous cow who swallowed Tom Thumb: it had never heard of those celebrities, and had only been introduced to a cow as a graminivorous ruminating quadruped with several stomachs.   To
Charles Dickens (Hard Times)
The Czech novelist Milan Kundera made a famous observation. ‘Kitsch,’ he wrote, ‘causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: how nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!’ Kitsch, in other words, is not about the thing observed but about the observer. It does not invite you to feel moved by the doll you are dressing so tenderly, but by yourself dressing the doll. All sentimentality is like this: it redirects emotion from the object to the subject, so as to create a fantasy of emotion without the real cost of feeling it. The kitsch object encourages you to think ‘look at me feeling this; how nice I am and how lovable’. That is why Oscar Wilde, referring to one of Dickens’s most sickly death-scenes, said that ‘a man must have a heart of stone not to laugh at the death of Little Nell’.
Roger Scruton (Confessions of a Heretic: Selected Essays)
In David Copperfield, Charles Dickens’s character Wilkins Micawber pronounced a now-famous law: Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
Burton G. Malkiel (The Elements of Investing: Easy Lessons for Every Investor)
glory, at the Science Museum of London. Charles Babbage was a well-known scientist and inventor of the time. He had spent years working on his Difference Engine, a revolutionary mechanical calculator. Babbage was also known for his extravagant parties, which he called “gatherings of the mind” and hosted for the upper class, the well-known, and the very intelligent.4 Many of the most famous people from Victorian England would be there—from Charles Darwin to Florence Nightingale to Charles Dickens. It was at one of these parties in 1833 that Ada glimpsed Babbage’s half-built Difference Engine. The teenager’s mathematical mind buzzed with possibilities, and Babbage recognized her genius immediately. They became fast friends. The US Department of Defense uses a computer language named Ada in her honor. Babbage sent Ada home with thirty of his lab books filled with notes on his next invention: the Analytic Engine. It would be much faster and more accurate than the Difference Engine, and Ada was thrilled to learn of this more advanced calculating machine. She understood that it could solve even harder, more complex problems and could even make decisions by itself. It was a true “thinking machine.”5 It had memory, a processor, and hardware and software just like computers today—but it was made from cogs and levers, and powered by steam. For months, Ada worked furiously creating algorithms (math instructions) for Babbage’s not-yet-built machine. She wrote countless lines of computations that would instruct the machine in how to solve complex math problems. These algorithms were the world’s first computer program. In 1840, Babbage gave a lecture in Italy about the Analytic Engine, which was written up in French. Ada translated the lecture, adding a set of her own notes to explain how the machine worked and including her own computations for it. These notes took Ada nine months to write and were three times longer than the article itself! Ada had some awesome nicknames. She called herself “the Bride of Science” because of her desire to devote her life to science; Babbage called her “the Enchantress of Numbers” because of her seemingly magical math
Michelle R. McCann (More Girls Who Rocked the World: Heroines from Ada Lovelace to Misty Copeland)
Charles Dickens was born in England in 1812. He is one of the most famous writers of all time.
Mary Pope Osborne (A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time (Magic Tree House, #44))
Am I bad?” He puffed angrily on his pipe. “Why does the law create such absurdities?” He snorted. “The law. The law is an ass. Someone famous said that, once. Dickens, I think.” He looked up to Goodrich. “And it is. It doesn’t respond anymore. It’s a straitjacket. What kind of coercion is it when your alternatives are to kill or to go to jail?
James Webb (Fields of Fire)
Tonight the President will bury himself, perhaps, in two volumes Mrs. Lodge has just sent him for review: Gissing’s Charles Dickens, A Critical Study, and The Greek View of Life, by Lowes Dickinson. He will be struck, as he peruses the latter, by interesting parallels between the Periclean attitude toward women and that of present-day Japan, and will make a mental note to write to Mrs. Lodge about it.122 He may also read, with alternate approval and disapproval, two articles on Mormonism in the latest issue of Outlook. A five-thousand-word essay on “The Ancient Irish Sagas” in this month’s Century magazine will not detain him long, since he is himself the author.123 His method of reading periodicals is somewhat unusual: each page, as he comes to the end of it, is torn out and thrown onto the floor.124 When both magazines have been thus reduced to a pile of crumpled paper, Roosevelt will leap from his rocking-chair and march down the corridor. Slowing his pace at the door of the presidential suite, he will tiptoe in, brush the famous teeth with only a moderate amount of noise, and pull on his blue-striped pajamas. Beside his pillow he will deposit a large, precautionary revolver.125 His last act, after turning down the lamp and climbing into bed, will be to unclip his pince-nez and rub the reddened bridge of his nose. Then, there being nothing further to do, Theodore Roosevelt will energetically fall asleep.
Edmund Morris (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt)
In the Victorian times there was much demand for Christmas books, which would make an ideal gift, as well provide amusing entertainment over the holiday period. Without a doubt the most famous of these is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, but he was by no means the only popular writer of such books. Published in 1847, Thackeray’s first Christmas book, Mrs Perkins’s Ball, is a humorous portrait of a seasonal social gathering, with a broad panorama of guests, from the hilarious sot Mulligan to the prissy middle-class characters he upsets. However, it is Thackeray’s ability as an illustrator that is the most impressive in this novella.
Charles Dickens (Delphi Christmas Collection Volume I (Illustrated) (Delphi Anthologies Book 6))
The following two chapters are taken from Dickens’ first novel The Pickwick Papers, concerning the Pickwickians famous visit to Dingley Dell to celebrate Christmas with their friend Mr. Wardle and to attend his daughter’s wedding. The second chapter includes the seasonal story Mr. Wardle tells the company on Christmas Eve. The tale of Gabriel Grub and the goblins is a clear precursor of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, which would be published several years later.
Charles Dickens (Delphi Christmas Collection Volume I (Illustrated) (Delphi Anthologies Book 6))
It was this. My father had left a small collection of books in a little room upstairs, to which I had access (for it adjoined my own) and which nobody else in our house ever troubled. From that blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, the Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Blas, and Robinson Crusoe, came out, a glorious host, to keep me company. They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of something beyond that place and time,—they, and the Arabian Nights, and the Tales of the Genii,—and did me no harm; for whatever harm was in some of them was not there for me; I knew nothing of it. It is astonishing to me now, how I found time, in the midst of my porings and blunderings over heavier themes, to read those books as I did. It is curious to me how I could ever have consoled myself under my small troubles (which were great troubles to me), by impersonating my favourite characters in them—as I did—and by putting Mr. and Miss Murdstone into all the bad ones—which I did too. I have been Tom Jones (a child's Tom Jones, a harmless creature) for a week together. I have sustained my own idea of Roderick Random for a month at a stretch, I verily believe. I had a greedy relish for a few volumes of Voyages and Travels—I forget what, now—that were on those shelves; and for days and days I can remember to have gone about my region of our house, armed with the centre-piece out of an old set of boot-trees—the perfect realization of Captain Somebody, of the Royal British Navy, in danger of being beset by savages, and resolved to sell his life at a great price. The Captain never lost dignity, from having his ears boxed with the Latin Grammar. I did; but the Captain was a Captain and a hero, in despite of all the grammars of all the languages in the world, dead or alive. This was my only and my constant comfort. When I think of it, the picture always rises in my mind, of a summer evening, the boys at play in the churchyard, and I sitting on my bed, reading as if for life. Every barn in the neighbourhood, every stone in the church, and every foot of the churchyard, had some association of its own, in my mind, connected with these books, and stood for some locality made famous in them. I have seen Tom Pipes go climbing up the church-steeple; I have watched Strap, with the knapsack on his back, stopping to rest himself upon the wicket-gate; and I know that Commodore Trunnion held that club with Mr. Pickle, in the parlour of our little village alehouse.
Charles Dickens (David Copperfield)
Bildungsroman’ is a literary term taken directly from the German. It refers to a novel which charts the education and development of its hero or heroine as he or she comes to maturity. Famous examples include Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers [The Sorrows of Young Werther] (1774), Austen’s Emma (1816), and Dickens’s David Copperfield (1850). We have already noted the autobiographical nuances of Dickens’s novel, and critics have discerned autobiographical qualities in other Bildungsromans, so it may not come as a surprise that the term can provide a useful, general way of thinking about, or planning, the structure of a life writing narrative. The Bildungsroman is particularly closely related to a sub-genre of life writing: the conversion narrative, or spiritual account.
Linda Anderson (Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings)
central characters in the tale, lending it a sense of veracity. Even better if one could give a first-hand account of a ghostly apparition. But one must not discount the multitude of stories penned by writers eager to provide readers with suitably eerie fare for the holiday. Along with Dickens, M. R. James, provost of King’s College, Cambridge, became famous for his stories, which he shared with students and eventually published (Ghost Stories of an Antiquary was his first collection). Mrs. J. H. Riddell, Wilkie Collins
Tasha Alexander (That Silent Night (Lady Emily, #10.5))
All evening, my mother’s cheeks blushed a deep red that could be noticed even in the low light of the lamp. My books show me what it’s like to live in a reliable country where you flick on a switch and a bulb is guaranteed to shine and remain on, where you know that cars will stop at red lights and those traffic lights will not cease working a couple of times a day. How does it feel when a plumber shows up at the designated time, when he shows up at all? How does it feel to assume that when someone says she’ll do something by a certain date, she in fact does it? Compared to the Middle East, William Burroughs’s world or Gabriel García Márquez’s Macondo is more predictable. Dickens’s Londoners are more trustworthy than the Lebanese. Beirut and its denizens are famously and infamously unpredictable. Every day is an adventure. This unsteadiness makes us feel a shudder of excitement, of danger, as well as a deadweight of frustration. The spine tingles momentarily and the heart sinks.
Rabih Alameddine (An Unnecessary Woman)
Pittsburg is like Birmingham in England; at least its townspeople say so. Setting aside the streets, the shops, the houses, waggons, factories, public buildings, and population, perhaps it may be. It certainly has a great quantity of smoke hanging about it, and is famous for its iron-works. Besides the prison to which I have already referred, this town contains a pretty arsenal and other institutions. It is very beautifully situated on the Alleghany River, over which there are two bridges; and the villas of the wealthier citizens sprinkled about the high grounds in the neighbourhood, are pretty enough. We lodged at a most excellent hotel, and were admirably served. As usual it was full of boarders, was very large, and had a broad colonnade to every story of the house.
Charles Dickens (American Notes and Pictures from Italy)
There is, probably, not a famous Picture or Statue in all Italy, but could be easily buried under a mountain of printed paper devoted to dissertations on it. I do not, therefore, though an earnest admirer of Painting and Sculpture, expatiate at any length on famous Pictures and Statues.
Charles Dickens (American Notes and Pictures from Italy)
I haven't noticed that horror gets any less respect than most fictional genres. Many of the most notable classics (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the works of Edgar Allan Poe) are horror. Even Dickens' A Christmas Carol, one of the most famous and most celebrated stories of all time is, at its core, a horror story with all of its ghosts, hauntings, and macabre imagery. So horror, from my experience, gets its fair share of respect.
Alistair Cross