What do they call it when the author’s writings stir our hearts to compassion for the suffering all around us every day? How I love Dickens for his characters and their sufferings, their hopes, their ability to persevere, their wonderful variations of damaged, decent, villainous, hapless!
I went through a dark phase in my late teens/early twenties during which I devoured all of it- Hardy, Dickens, Thackery, the Austens, Lawrence, Forster, Eliot, the rest of the Brontes (having read Jane Eyre when I was 10 or so). Those dark times were also happy somehow, probably because I could hide from the literal and figurative rain, curl up with a cup of tea and my meager student supper and escape into these wonderful books. Their amazing clarity and the beauty of writing regarding human suffering in an era and culture whose face was ornately proper and prosperous, but with a heart dark with decadence, oppression, poverty, exploitation, tragedy, yet bright with amazing observation, compassion and creativity as well, were just the thing.
Dickens’ big heart finally stopped in June 1870, over his uncompleted Mystery of Edwin Drood. I have in my hand an 1870 first edition later binding copy. Bound in the back are advertisements for contemporary consumables plus W.H. Smith’s catalog dated May 1872. [How I used to love going to W.H. Smith! I have never again found a source for reasonably priced fountain pens and ink cartridges in peacock, brown, magenta!]
Due to wear, it isn’t worth what it might be, but it would be a sweet addition to the library of any lover of mysteries, Victoriana or Dickensiana.