Charles Dickens

‘At a later date, when Dickens went travelling, he repeatedly complained about the lack of street noises which were indispensable to him for his production. ‘I cannot express how much I want these [ the streets],’ he wrote in 1846 from Lausanne while he was working on Domhey and Son. ‘It seems as if they supplied something to my brain, which it cannot bear, when busy, to lose. For a week or a fortnight I can write prodigiously in a retired place … and a day in London sets me up again and starts me. But the toil and labour of writing, day after day, without that magic lantern, is immense . … My figures seem disposed to stagnate without crowds about them.’ [Franz Mehring, ‘Charles Dickens’, in Die Neue Zeit, 30 (1911-12, vol. 1, pp. 621ff. [The Letters of Charles Dickens, edited by Walter Dexter, vol. 1: 1832-1846, London, 1938, p. 782.]’ (‘The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire’, 49)

‘On the Lake of Geneva, Dickens nostalgically remembered Genoa where he had two miles of streets by whose light he had been able to roam about at night. [The Letters of Charles Dickens, edited by Walter Dexter, vol. 1: 1832-1846, London, 1938, p. 782.]’ (‘The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire’, 50)

‘In his book on Dickens, Chesterton has masterfully captured the image of the man who roams the big city lost in thought. Charles Dickens’ constant peregrinations began in his childhood. “Whenever he had done drudging, he had no other resource but drifting, and he drifted over half London. He was a dreamy child, thinking mostly of his own dreary prospects… He walked in darkness under the lamps of Holborn, and was crucified at Charing Cross… He did not go in for “observation,” a priggish habit; he did not look at Charing Cross to improve his mind or count the lampposts in Holborn to practice his arithmetic… Dickens did not stamp these places in his mind; he stamped his mind on these places.” [G K Chesteron: Charles Dickens. Traduit de Archille Laurent et L. Martin-Dupont. Paris o. J. [1927], p.31]’ (‘The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire’, xx?)