the woman in white

January – Charles Dickens Month: Dickens and Collins

7th February 2012 is the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens. To mark the occasion Amanda at Fig and Thistle is hosting January – Charles Dickens Month. As Charles Dickens is one of my favourite authors, I couldn’t resist plunging into it.

Today’s post is about Dickens and CollinsCharles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, contemporaries, friends and authors whom I enjoy reading.

*These are my personal opinions. No offence is meant to anyone.*

Comparisons between Charles dickens and Wilkie Collins are inevitable. They were contemporaries and very close friends. As a big fan of Victorian Literature, I have read both with deep enthusiasm.

I personally feel that Collins was sometimes less sure about what he wanted to do. For example, in The Moonstone he came across as a bit  preachy. At times his social commentary overburdened his narrative and sometimes the light, entertaining side took over more completely. It’s like a play of shadow and light. On the other hand, when Collins set out to entertain, without trying to provide any social commentary, he was superb! I absolutely adore his The Queen of Hearts!

Dickens seemed much more confident about how he wanted to deal with the issues important to him (child labour, the condition of prisons, the judiciary system etc, etc,) and how and when to entertain.  For example, his Great Expectations, where the sadness of Pip’s situation is enlivened by a few interludes such as the scenes at Mr. Wopsle’s great aunt’s school and Mr. Wemmick’s division of his personal and professional life. But one side never overshadowed the other.

With Dickens the characters are such a big part of the plots that long after the book is over one remembers their personalities. How can I forget Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities or even someone like Mrs Lirriper from Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings? Some of  Collins’s characters are memorable (Count Fosco from The Woman in White comes to mind) but many seem kind of undermined by the main story. I often forget the names of the male and female lead of  The Moonstone.

For me, Dickens is superior of the two at least in these two aspects.