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His famous works include “A Tale of Two Cities”, “David Copperfield”, “Great Expectations”, “Bleak House”, “Little Dorrit”, “Hard Times”, “Our Mutual Friend” and “The Pickwick Papers”, ''Oliver twist, ''A Christmas Carol'',etc. Frankly speaking I have read a few of them in concise form as part of High School curriculum in the English language during my high school days in the 1950s. Considering my age then and my exposure to social life, I had no idea about Dickens being a racist and his belief in English supremacy.
No doubt, a prolific writer Charles Dickens stands tallest among the tall English literary figures in those years. But his attitude and prejudice toward non-English people got him a bad rap and this peculiar and unpalatable 'twist in his mind' can be interpreted as racist and xenophobic in his journalism and fiction. At the same time no body can deny his sympathetic approach to the labor class and disadvantaged, and their plight in the stratified British society. The rich and the aristocrats with royal blood always kept a distance from the poor and, I understand, they won't even step on the poor people's shadow falling on the ground. Dickens' ingrained idea of racism, nationalist chauvinism and imperialist mentality became a subject of debate among the English writers though his support for liberal causes was quite well-known. This sort of paradox has made him a highly controversial English writer; a reputed novelist who has been highly criticized by the British and others with sane mind
His biographer Peter Ackroyd in his 1990 biography of Dickens (the 2nd of four books on Dickens) gives his frank opinion about Dickens' sympathy for the poor, opposition to child labor, campaigns for sanitation reform and opposition to capital punishment. He also asserts, in spite of underlying racism in his works, Dickens ''was necessarily the epitome of all that was decent and benign in the previous century." With respect to the American Civil war, Ackroyd mentions that Dickens openly supported the Southerners (Confederates) because he believed that .... ''the Northerners (Yankees - Union) were not genuinely interested in the abolition of slavery.
As for hatred toward Jews, the 'Historical Encyclopedia of Anti-Semitism' notes the paradox of Dickens both being a "champion of causes of the oppressed "who abhorred slavery and supported the European liberal revolutions of the 1840s, and his creation of the antisemitic caricature of the character of Fagin (in his famous novel ''Oliver Twist'' in which at several places he referred to Fagin as ''the Jew"). This portrayal of Fagin is considered by many as intentional and deeply antisemitic, though others such as Dickens's biographer G. K. Chesterton have argued against this view. The novel refers to Fagin 257 times in the first 38 chapters as "the Jew". With respect to other characters in the novel Dickens never discusses neither the ethnicity nor religion of them. You have to assume they were British Paul Vallely, an English writer mentioned in ''The Independent'' that ''Dickens's Fagin in Oliver Twist —the Jew who runs a school in London for child pickpockets—is regularly seen as one of the most grotesque Jewish characters in English literature''.
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tied and bemused. He literally spewed venom on India's native people soon after the Great Indian rebellion of 1857, and wrote: "I should do my utmost to exterminate the Race upon whom the stain of the late cruelties rested......... proceeding, with all convenient dispatch and merciful swiftness of execution, to blot it out of mankind and raze it off the face of the earth."
In an early fictional work with Wilkie Collins ''The Perils of Certain English Prisoners'' Dickens deals allegorically with the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Patrick Brantlinger considers it as melodramatic and wildly inaccurate. It appeared in the 1857 Christmas number of Household Words. In this fiction Dickens creates an Indian native character Sambo", obviously a paradigm of the Indian mutineers, as a "double-dyed traitor, and a most infernal villain,'' He takes part in a massacre of women and children; it is an inference to the Cawnpore (Kanpur) Massacre. In rage over a hundred English prisoners, most of them women and children who were killed on 4 October 1857 by the hell-bent mob, Dickens wrote in a private letter on 23 October 1857 to Baroness Burdett-Coutts (Emile de la Rue) :
"I wish I were the Commander in Chief in India over there [ India ]! I would address that Oriental character ... in something like the following placard, “I, The Inimitable, holding this office of mine, and firmly believing that I hold it by the permission of Heaven and not by the appointment of Satan, have the honor to inform you Hindoo gentry that it is my intention, with all possible avoidance of unnecessary cruelty and with all merciful swiftness of execution, to exterminate the Race from the face of the earth, which disfigured the earth with the late abominable atrocities''.
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In the rebellion of 1857, called the first war of Independence against EIC' s atrocities against the natives, 2,000 British were killed. The irony is in retaliation the British killed more than a million Indian in the later bloody events. Refer to ''India's secret history: 'A holocaust, one where millions disappeared...'' https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/aug/24/india.randeepramesh ): http://www.amazon.com/Dickens-Empire-Discourses-Colonialism-Nineteenth/dp/glanceands=books/0754634124 ).
The British brutality continued unabated in the later years. Indian historian Amaresh Misra in his well-researched work claims in his 2 volume work “War of Civilizations: India AD 1857” that the British killed 10 million Indians in reprisals for the 2,000 British killed in the 1857 rebellion (the so-called Indian Mutiny). (Randeep Ramesh, “ India 's secret history: “a holocaust, one where millions disappeared…” Author says British reprisals involved the killing of 10 million Indians spread over 10 years”, Guardian, 24 August Guardian, 24 August 2007 http ://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/aug/24/india.randeepra -mesh) . However, British writers in a process of continuing , holocaust denial put the number of Indians killed at about 100,000. The British history does not cover the appalling atrocities and mass killing of Indians between 1757-1947.
The Indian Holocaust masterminded by PM Winston Churchill and his cronies drew the attention of the world in the years 1942-1945. Six to seven million Bengali deliberately starved to death. (Refer to “Jane Australian and the Black Hole of British History”: