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The Wisdom of Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) was an English writer and social critic, renowned for creating some of the world's best-known fictional characters. Commonly regarded as the greatest novelist of Victorian times, his fiction became very popular during his lifetime, and is still widely read and loved today.

With his father in a debtors’ prison, Dickens left school to work in a factory. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, and penned hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles. He also lectured and performed extensively, wrote hundreds of letters and campaigned for social reform.

His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which allowed Dickens to evaluate an audience's reaction. This often resulted in him modifying his plot and character development. His 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris, is his best-known work of historical fiction and one of the best-selling novels of all time.

Below are some of the most memorable lines from his extraordinary fiction.

'Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart.'

'There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.'

'I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.'

'Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape.'

'A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.'

'You are fettered,' said Scrooge, trembling. 'Tell me why?’ 'I wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost. 'I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.'

'Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before--more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.'

'Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.’

'It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.'

'It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.'

'No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.'

'The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.'

'To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.'

'Every traveller has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.'

'I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.'

'In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.'

'Reflect upon your present blessings -- of which every man has many -- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.'

'I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul.'

'Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.'

'There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.'


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