From Slate—the introductory paragraph:
Dickens! Should’st be living at this hour and should’st be writing for Slate and publishing fiction online. The world needs vivid laughter, wider vision. Even just to recall the names of characters—Smike, Scrooge, Guppy, Copperfield, Nell—is to wake to lost possibilities of what novels can reach and do. All our talk of the middle class these days is fine, but Dickens knew the higher and the lower, the much lower: the mudlark, the wasting orphan, the prison child, the crossing sweeper, the dun, the dustman, the shabby clerk, the street philosopher. He knew the textures of their everyday lives, their talk, their walk, and the urban abyss yawning near.
Read the whole thing.