Dickens pp 52-58 | Cite as

The Young Dickens (1950)

  • Graham Greene


A critic must try to avoid being a prisoner of his time, and if we are to appreciate Oliver Twist at its full value we must forget that long shelf-load of books, all the stifling importance of a great author, the scandals and the controversies of the private life; it would be well too if we could forget the Phiz and the Cruikshank illustrations that have frozen the excited, excitable world of Dickens into a hall of waxworks, where Mr Mantalini’s whiskers have always the same trim, where Mr Pickwick perpetually turns up the tails of his coat, and in the Chamber of Horrors Fagin crouches over an undying fire. His illustrators, brilliant craftsmen though they were, did Dickens a disservice, for no character any more will walk for the first time into our memory as we ourselves imagine him, and our imagination after all has just as much claim to truth as Cruikshank’s.


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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

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  • Graham Greene

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