200. Charles Dickens (Listen and Read)
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200. Charles Dickens
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Charles Dickens is considered one of the greatest writers in the history of English literature.
Dickens wrote his many novels during the nineteenth century,
but those novels remain popular even today.
Literary experts admire his genius at describing the lives and personalities of the many characters in his books.
Charles Dickens was born in England in 1812.
His father was a clerk who worked for the Navy.
Unfortunately, his father was not good at managing money,
and the family soon went deeply into debt.
In those days, people who owed money were sent to prison,
and their families were sent to places called "workhouses".
When Charles' father was unable to pay the debts, Charles was sent to a workhouse,
where he had to work long hours, and Charles' father was sent to prison.
After a few years, the family regained its freedom,
but the experience had a lasting effect upon Charles.
As a young man, Charles Dickens worked as a journalist in the law courts and in Parliament.
But he soon began writing stories for newspapers.
These stories were very popular with the readers.
Soon, Dickens began writing entire novels for the newspapers.
Each month, the newspaper would publish another chapter of Dickens' latest novel.
One of Dickens' most famous early novels is called Oliver Twist.
This is the story of a young man who is poor and alone in the city of London,
and becomes involved in criminal activities to support himself.
The characters in this novel have a very wide range of personalities,
but seem very real to the reader.
The book exposed the conditions that faced the poor people of London,
and helped to encourage reforms aimed at improving those conditions.
Perhaps Dickens' most popular novel is A Christmas Carol.
In this story, a rich but stingy old man, Ebenezer Scrooge,
refuses to give his employee a day off at Christmas,
and refuses to donate money to help the poor.
But, while sleeping, Scrooge is visited by ghosts from his past, present and future.
These ghosts show Scrooge how badly he has behaved.
When Scrooge wakes up, he becomes a kind and generous man
who fully appreciates the spirit of the Christmas holiday.
Another famous novel of Dickens is A Tale of Two Cities.
This is a story of the violence and upheaval during the French Revolution.
The story is famous for the heroic act of sacrifice
that is made by one character for the benefit of the others.
Dickens was famous as a public speaker,
and large crowds assembled to hear his performances.
When he died in 1870, he was a very famous man.
The novels of Charles Dickens allow the reader to experience the life of nineteenth century London,
showing the poverty and injustice that were so common.
The characters of these novels show the range of human behavior,
from cruelty and selfishness to kindness and love.
It is no surprise that Dickens is viewed as one of the great figures of English literature.