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Tsvetkova, Yu. D. The Influence of Charles Dickens on the Development of the Social Thought Regarding Social Reformation in Great Britain of the Second Half of XIX Century

Published in journal "Philosophy and Culture", 2015-1 in rubric "Characteristics of society", pages 67-73.

Resume: In her article Tsvetkova analyzes the influence of the most popular English-speaking author and a major prose writer of the XIX century Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) on the shaping of public opinion regarding social reformation processes. Social reformation was one of the most acute issues for Victorian England, the country that surprised people of those times with the social, political and economic development, ‘shadow sides’ and social contradictions that were concentrated in Victorian England like nowhere else in the world. At the same time, despite the serious situation, Victorian society did not seem to focus on the need to resolve the situation by the means of systemic social reforms instead of local actions and encouragement of self-help ideas. The terms ‘social welfare state’ and ‘class solidarity’ were associated with radical attitudes and the revolution. Transformation of public opinion towards paternalism and refusal of the principle of laissez-faire was in many ways encouraged by English literature and publicistic writing of that period. According to one of the first Oxford professors in English literature George Gordon, the purpose of that literature was not only to enlighten and educate but also ‘to save our souls and to heal the country’, in other words, to create an ideology which could replace a religion. In her research Tsvetkova has used general scientific methods including the method of ascension from the abstract to the concrete, method of idealization, method of formalization as well as methods of literary research such as the biographic method, psychoanalytical method, formal method, structural method and cultural historical method. According to Tsvetkova, Charles Dickens’ creative work was too politicized. Soviet researchers saw only one side of Dickens as a ‘progressive writer’, defender of national democratic culture, a man of the people and a friend of ‘the diminished and unfortunate’ while English critics on the contrary emphasized Dickens’ sympathy for the small bourgeoisie social groups.

Keywords: English literature, social reforms, Charles Dickens, social utopia, public opinion, social responsibility, paternalism, individualism, laissez-faire, critical realism.

DOI: 10.7256/1999-2793.2015.1.13599

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