Dickens (1812 -1870) was a great prolific writer and entertainer who portrayed a vivid picture of Victorian England. He created a vast range of characters, especially eccentrics, vagabonds, criminals and orphans. In his own life Dickens was extraordinarily popular and he is still the best-known English novelist. He profoundly influenced many of his contemporaries and successors, even abroad (Dostoyevsky and Kafka for instance). Earlier critics tended to regard him as a great comic writer and entertainer, whose plots were implausible and whose characterization was superficial. Contemporary critics now tend to see his works - especially the later ones - as combining social realism with the poetical devices of metaphor and symbolism. These allowed him to explore the depths of the human psyche and to represent social conflict and evil.
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