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Saturday, 26 May 2007

London of Charles Dickens

In world culture every city has its portraitist. London of Ch. Dickens came to be something like St. Petersburg of Dostoyevsky. It is a matter of fact that no one else managed to depict the physiology of London with its colourful greatness neighbouring with crying poverty.

Part 1.

London is reversable: it hides its dark side which comes out only when night comes on. London of day light is quite different from that of the night.


The stage in the morning is full of light and peace. The main characters are smiling maidservants, provincial boys coming to London with their own great expectations, successful shop masters, coachmen, cats and other residents of London . They all are depicted with true sympathy, kind irony; they are shown as cheerful, happy people. Throughout the day the city lives and works, but when the last character of morning stage leaves, the true inside of London comes out.


That means everything known in literature as London of Oliver Twist; all the miserable depravity, all the poverty and deprivation which average people of London slums have to suffer. A provincial girl having come to London one bright morning is a drunken prostitute at night.

Part 2.

Another aspect to feel the pulse of London is to watch its life in different places and regions for each of them presents us a little separate world. Each sketch devoted either to shops and their masters or to residents of Scotland-Yard and Monmouth-street shows us the process of penetrating of new but mostly of degradation and decay of old which once used to be firm and solid.
This old can be portrayed as a degrading house; even a store of old clothes can show us how a person can sink under circumstances.

All the sketches are imbued with nostalgia about dying Old England. Dickens makes the reader sorry about a dead carriage or a fashionable shop degraded to a hen-house, because they used to be parts and symbols of Old England.



Shops & shop keepers.


In fact Dickens was the only author who managed to show and to expose all the vices and imperfections of London as diseases of a great and huge living organism.

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