After reading three of Mr. Arthur Blair’s books in 2015 (including a selection of essays and short stories), I thought I had finished with old George for the year in order to get on with reading other works. Last week, however, I was given a loan of another collection of Orwell essays from a neighbour (after getting locked out of the house, they invited me in for a chat). I feel an obligation to now finish this book so that I can return it to its enthusiastic lender.
Included in it is an enjoyable piece about Charles Dickens and proletarian themed writing. The essay is literally called Charles Dickens. A point is made about the portrayal of working-class people in literature, which I agree with, and I thought it was worth sharing here:
[Dickens] was not… a ‘proletarian’ writer. To begin with, he does not write about the proletariat, in which he merely resembles the overwhelming majority of novelists, past and present. If you look for the working classes in fiction, and especially English fiction, all you find is a hole… a great deal has been written about criminals, derelicts… But the ordinary town proletariat, the people who make the wheels go round, have always been ignored by novelists. When they do find their way between the covers of a book, it is nearly always as objects of pity or as comic relief.