Mr. Pickwick, the lovable, generous old gentleman of one of Charles Dickens’s most popular novels, is one of the best-known characters of fiction. Mr. Pickwick benignly reigns over all activities of the Pickwick Club; under every circumstance, he is satisfied that he has helped his fellow creatures by his well-meaning efforts. The height of this Dickensian comedy is reached, however, with the creation of servant Sam Weller and his father. Sam’s imperturbable presence of mind and his ready wit are indispensable to the Pickwickians. Pickwick Papers has importance beyond its humorous incidents and characterization. It is the first novel of a literary movement to present the life and manners of lower- and middle-class life.
At the time a publisher in 1836 proposed that Dickens write the text for a series of pictures by the sporting artist Robert Seymour, Dickens was experiencing the first thrill of fame as the author of Sketches by Boz (1836). He was twenty-four years old and had been for some years a court reporter and freelance journalist; Sketches by Boz was his first literary effort of any length. The work the publisher proposed was of a similar kind: short, primarily humorous descriptions of cosmopolitan life, sometimes illustrated, and to be published monthly. Although Dickens already had the plan of a novel in mind, he was in need of cash and accepted the offer as a stopgap. He made one stipulation: that he, and not...
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