I had hoped, free of any creative nag, to prepare an objective, documented assessment of Dickens’ significance for the modern novelist. A novel of my own has refused to give me either the time or the detachment required; yet the itch to analyse, if only in outline, the constant and haunting pressure of Dickens’ created world upon my imagination has persisted despite all the pull of my own fantasy. I make, then, only a half-apology for offering the following short ‘thinking aloud’; it is I suspect the only sort of critical contribution that a novelist, untrained in literary scholarship, can make which may justify his amateur intrusion — a contribution unashamedly subjective.
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