What was Charles Dickens purpose for writing Great Expectations?

Great Expectations is a literary masterpiece by Charles Dickens that presents a caricature of the unjust socio-economic conditions of 19th Century England from the point of view of its seven-year-old protagonist Pip. Let's us look at what makes this novel relevant today.

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth in February 1812. His father was a clerk in the Navy office: because of this, they had to constantly move about and follow his different appointments. The looming money troubles caused the ten-year-old Dickens to leave school to take up work so he could contribute to the family's income. He was sent to work at a blacking factory in London that made polish for metal surfaces. His experience at the factory was scarring and traumatic. These childhood experiences became an intangible part of all of his narratives and made him sensitive to the precariousness of life. Research suggests that this is one of the main reasons why the protagonists of some of his most iconic books like Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Great Expectations, are children bound by unfortunate circumstances.

Great Expectations

Great Expectations begins with a young boy named Pip encountering an escaped convict in a churchyard. The child is terrified and intrigued and he brings the convict some food. This act of kindness, then, set up ripples that will work their way through his life and that of the convict for many years to come. This novel is a bildungsroman (a coming-of-age story) on the experience of childhood and great expectations of the future that help one move forward. Robert Douglas. Fairhurst, an author and professor at Oxford University, calls it the best novel about growing up and the strains and scars it leaves behind.

What makes it a classic?

 The narration

Dicken's mastery of storytelling is reflected in his ability to capture the voices of people from different social classes without being biased. By writing Great Expectations in the first person, he crafts a narrative that puts the reader in the shoes of the poor, orphan Pip on a journey to fulfil his ambition to rise above his social standing and take his place in society as a gentleman. As a story told in three parts, at three different stages of Pip's life, the novel focusses on the role of life experiences in shaping the personality of an individual.

Literature: A catalyst for change

As one of the most famous novelists writing in the English language in the 19th Century, Dicken's ambition in life was to prove that stories and literature could help fix the problems of the world. Even from the early days of his childhood, he displayed all the signs of a great showman. Public readings held by the author displayed his genius of getting the audience interested in serious topics like the evils of industrialising society, the sordid working conditions in factories, child labour and the inefficiencies of the government through stories with interesting plots, clownish characters and happy endings. Through his stories, Dickens set out on a mission to educate society.

One of the main reasons why Great Expectations has managed to stay relevant in the 21st Century is because we still live in a time of extreme inequality and indifference.

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Which is the world‘s first novel?

"The Tale of Genji", written by Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th Century, is widely regarded as the world's first novel. Murasaki Shikibu was a Japanese novelist, poet and lady-in-waiting at the Imperial court during the Heian period.. Murasaki Shikibu is a descriptive name; her personal name is unknown, but she may have been Fujiwara no Kaoruko, who was mentioned in a 1007 court diary as an imperial lady-in-waiting.

The tale had an unprecedented global influence. The book is written in a notoriously complex style with frequent poetic ambiguity and over 800 inserted poems, but it was an instant success and quickly gained its reputation as a timeless classic. At its most basic, The Tale of Genji is an absorbing introduction to the culture of the aristocracy in early Heian Japan—its forms of entertainment, its manner of dress, its daily life, and its moral code. The era is exquisitely re-created through the story of Genji, the handsome, sensitive, gifted courtier, an excellent lover and a worthy friend. Most of the story concerns the loves of Genji, and each of the women in his life is vividly delineated. The work shows supreme sensitivity to human emotions and the beauties of nature, but as it proceeds its darkening tone reflects the Buddhist conviction of this world’s transience.

Credit : West Port Library

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Is the Tale of Genji the world's first novel?

The Tale of Genji is considered to be the world's first novel. It was written in around A.D. 1010 by a Japanese noblewoman named Murasaki Shikibu. The hero of this 54-chapter novel, regarded as a masterpiece of Japan's cultural tradition, is a handsome aristocrat named Hikaru Genji. The novel describes the life of Genji and his many romances against the backdrop of Japan's court society.

At its most basic, The Tale of Genji is an absorbing introduction to the culture of the aristocracy in early Heian Japan—its forms of entertainment, its manner of dress, its daily life, and its moral code. The era is exquisitely re-created through the story of Genji, the handsome, sensitive, gifted courtier, an excellent lover and a worthy friend. Most of the story concerns the loves of Genji, and each of the women in his life is vividly delineated. The work shows supreme sensitivity to human emotions and the beauties of nature, but as it proceeds its darkening tone reflects the Buddhist conviction of this world’s transience.

Arthur Waley was the first to translate The Tale of Genji into English (6 vol., 1925–33). Waley’s translation is beautiful and inspiring but also very free. Edward Seidensticker’s translation (1976) is true to the original in both content and tone, but its notes and reader aids are sparse, in contrast to the translation published by Royall Tyler in 2001.

Credit : Britannica 

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Indian author and activist, who won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997 for her book “God of Small Things”?

Suzanna Arundhati Roy (born 24 November 1961) is an Indian author best known for her novel The God of Small Things (1997), which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997 and became the best-selling book by a non-expatriate Indian author. She is also a political activist involved in human rights and environmental causes.

In 1997 Roy published her debut novel, The God of Small Things to wide acclaim. The semiautobiographical work departed from the conventional plots and light prose that had been typical among best-sellers. Composed in a lyrical language about South Asian themes and characters in a narrative that wandered through time, Roy’s novel became the biggest-selling book by a nonexpatriate Indian author and won the 1998 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Roy’s subsequent literary output largely consisted of politically oriented nonfiction, much of it aimed at addressing the problems faced by her homeland in the age of global capitalism. Among her publications were Power Politics (2001), The Algebra of Infinite Justice (2002), War Talk (2003), Public Power in the Age of Empire (2004), Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers (2009), Broken Republic: Three Essays (2011), and Capitalism: A Ghost Story (2014). In 2017 Roy published The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, her first novel in 20 years. The work blends personal stories with topical issues as it uses a large cast of characters, including a transgender woman and a resistance fighter in Kashmir, to explore contemporary India.

Credit : Britannica

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Who is the creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple?

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Educated at home by her mother, Christie began writing detective fiction while working as a nurse during World War I. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), introduced Hercule Poirot, her eccentric and egotistic Belgian detective; Poirot reappeared in about 25 novels and many short stories before returning to Styles, where, in Curtain (1975), he died. The elderly spinster Miss Jane Marple, her other principal detective figure, first appeared in Murder at the Vicarage (1930). Christie’s first major recognition came with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), which was followed by some 75 novels that usually made best-seller lists and were serialized in popular magazines in England and the United States.

Christie’s plays included The Mousetrap (1952), which set a world record for the longest continuous run at one theatre (8,862 performances—more than 21 years—at the Ambassadors Theatre, London) before moving in 1974 to St Martin’s Theatre, where it continued without a break until the COVID-19 pandemic closed theatres in 2020, by which time it had surpassed 28,200 performances; and Witness for the Prosecution (1953), which, like many of her works, was adapted into a successful film (1957).

Credit : Britannica

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