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Charles Dickens

Perhaps the greatest of all English novelists

The Muse of Literature Welcomes You

...Keats is to poetry what Schubert is to music.
...Shelley is to poetry what Schumann is to music.

—ETAF Staff


Dickens on Dickens

Charles Dickens was one of the most creative, talented, thoughtful, and respected literary authors of all time. His understanding of human nature was deep and penetrating. His ability to realistically, skillfully, and cleverly depict, explain, and champion the character of human conduct in his writings was, still is, and always will be unique.

Here are a few of the things he said and wrote about himself and his work; they help explain who and what he was. They are reflected in his writing.

  —A loving heart is the truest wisdom.
  —Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well; whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely; in great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest.
  —The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
  —No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.
  —There is nothing so strong or safe in an emergency of life as the simple truth. It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away.
  —A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
  —We forge the chains we wear in life.
  I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free.
  I feel an earnest and humble desire, and shall till I die, to increase the stock of harmless cheerfulness.
  —Charles Dickens

other authors on their writing

Ah, words! they're not just for breakfast or lunch...

I would call back at least for literature this world of shadows we are losing. In the mansion called literature I would have the eves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration. I do not ask that this be done everywhere, but perhaps we may be allowed at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see how it is without them.

Tanizaki Junichiro, 1886-1965
from In Praise of Shadows, 1934



It would be exaggerating to say that our relationship is hostile; I live, I let myself live, so that Borges can weave his literature and that literature justifies me. ... I don't know which of us is writing this page.

Jorge Luis Borges, 1899-1986
from Personal Anthology, 1961. Borges and Myself


Stuff the head
With all such reading as was never read:
For thee explain a thing until all men doubt it,
And write about it, Goddess, and about it.

Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
from The Dunciad, 1728-1743








about this feature

In this feature, The Muse explores works of literature, their authors, and the worlds—real and imaginary—in which these works and authors have their being.


These worlds are populated by real and fictional characters, societies, cultures, places, events, actions, histories, emotions, lives—a myriad of things that make up and have made up the literary writings of the past and present—all the things and more that writers have cared enough about to set down for readers to read and all the writings that readers have cared to pick up and read.

Despite the critical importance of writers, The Muse explores writing chiefly from the reader's perspective. The principal focus of this feature is reading and the reader, not the writing process or the writer. The aim is to travel along with the reader as he reads, to assist by presenting facts and ideas that deepen the reader's understanding and appreciation of what he is reading, thereby heightening the reading experience.

the organization of this feature and of literary subjects generally

Has the way literary subjects are organized and taught in schools ever struck you as a bit ironic? Since writers write in order to be read and to be admired by readers, one might think the reader would be the focus of instruction. But in schools, the focus tends to be on the writer, not the reader. Why does this sort of thing happen?


What is literature?well, there's literature...and there's literature

What's literature? What's the subject of this feature?

The question has been debated for a long, long time in many, many expert circles and the jury on a precise meaning is still out. As a first answer, The Muse proposes that literature is not only high-sounding writing; it also can be any kind of commonplace printed material, such as circulars, leaflets, or handbills. And The Muse alleges that is answer is valid, despite popular opinion to the contrary.

In this feature The Muse is not limiting the scope of literature; the muse is concerned with all of its kinds, whether highbrow or lowbrow. And further, The Muse represents these distinctions between different kinds of literature by referring to them as Literature and literature.

  • What's the definition of the term literature? What's the difference between literature spelled with a capital "L" and literature spelled with a lowercase "l?" It's vital to know: tap or click here.


This feature spans two pages; it continues on Page 2.

To see Page 2, click the page number below or click in the Feature Pages box near the top of the column at the right.

Page 1, 2—


the muse of literature wants your complete attention

Visit The Muse Of Literature Index for a list of all the sections belonging to The Muse of Literature: click here.





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