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The Gospel in Dickens : Selections from His…

The Gospel in Dickens : Selections from His Works (The Gospel in Great… (utgåvan 2020)

av Charles Dickens (Författare), Gina Dalfonzo (Redaktör), Karen Swallow Prior (Förord)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
2311764,572 (4.22)1
Titel:The Gospel in Dickens : Selections from His Works (The Gospel in Great Writers)
Författare:Charles Dickens (Författare)
Andra författare:Gina Dalfonzo (Redaktör), Karen Swallow Prior (Förord)
Info:Walden, New York : Plough Publishing House, 2020.
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The Gospel in Dickens: Selections from His Works (The Gospel in Great Writers) av Charles Dickens



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Many people, when they hear the name Charles Dickens, think of his well-known works such as A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and A Tale of Two Cities. Quite a number have seen the movies based on these classics. Relatively few have read one or more of his books from start to finish.

For those like myself who have never read a complete novel penned by Charles Dickens, Gina Dalfonzo’s book The Gospel in Dickens has provided a well-received introduction to Dickens’ writings. Dalfonzo commendably introduces Dickens to her readers in the first pages of the book, focusing primarily on his portrayal of Christian beliefs as reflected in his writings, as well as probing into the matter of his personal convictions. She then gives the reader a well-rounded selection of excerpts, compiled topically under three main categories, which serve as the book’s three parts: Part I: Sin and Its Victims; Part II: Repentance and Grace; and Part III: The Righteous Life.

After reading the selections in Part I, there is no doubt in my mind that Dickens grasped the sad reality of life in a fallen, sin-filled world. He vividly portrays the total depravity of men and women, and his readers are confronted with the gut-wrenching consequences of sin. While reading Parts II and III, I was impressed by Dickens’ ability to draw his readers into his narratives, but I was also left with the impression that his portrayals of repentance, grace, and the righteous life were often less than astounding, especially when compared to his dark portrayals of sin.

Could this perhaps be explained because of Dickens’ reticence to proclaim the life-changing work of Jesus “from the housetops?” Or perhaps the excerpts relating to repentance, grace, and the righteous life seem rather muted or pale because they present human morality more than supernatural regeneration. For it is only as a sinner trusts in Jesus to save him or her from the depths of sin that any true and lasting change can take place. Was Dickens more enamored with the teachings of Jesus than with the salvation of Jesus? Is the gospel of Dickens merely a social gospel, instead of the gospel preached by Jesus and the apostle Paul, the true gospel that is the very power of God? Sadly, no excerpt in The Gospel in Dickens clearly describes the gospel in truly Biblical terms. Lacking is the gospel’s theme of the crucified and risen Jesus as the source of eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and true hope and joy for all who would believe in Him. It is this gospel that must be proclaimed and accepted. Unfortunately, this gospel is sorely missing in the excerpts found in The Gospel in Dickens. ( )
  pjkramer | Nov 21, 2020 |
I picked up this book as one who's only read one work by Dickens (Great Expectations), but more broadly as one with an interest both in canonical literature and in the Christian worldview, and this book completely satisfied my interest. The introductory materials are valuable in of themselves as inspiration both for reading great literature and for exploring the (oft unnoticed) Christian vein running through the works of Dickens. Overall, the excerpts draw from twenty works, and two letters are included.

One, like myself, unfamiliar with Victorian literature should not expect to fully follow and understand all the selections; however, with careful reading and the guide of the in-text summary and interpretation, one can appreciate the aesthetic range of Dickens as well as significant ethical insights. One should be prepared to notice scathing irony which may be a bit subtle for a contemporary American reader. I have come away from these readings increasingly eager to reader another work of Dickens, and I believe this introduction will help me have a deeper appreciation than I might otherwise have had, because I'll be better able to compare with a broad knowledge of his complete works and to notice the subtle Christian unity.

The book is divided into three Parts: "Sin and Its Victims", "Repentance and Grace", and "The Righteous Life". The first part is a carefully arranged sequence of excerpts that serve as character portraits of antagonists, offering insights into the nature and results of unethical lifestyle and attitudes. It is the longest; perhaps Dickens had most to say about villainy. The second part is a redemption of those who might be considered 'sinners'; one example even offended some of the sensibilities of his readers, but unapologetic, Dickens faithfully stood by his portrayal as "TRUE", and this commitment to truth is admirable. The final part includes some inspiring examples, and one leaves the book refreshed. Overall, the selections felt very intentionally sequenced, building on the previous and ultimately with artistic unity. ( )
  hatzemach | Nov 8, 2020 |
“My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in anyway ill or miserable, as he was.” — Charles Dickens, “The Life of Our Lord”

Charles Dickens wrote “The Life of Our Lord” not for general circulation but for the sake of his own children. He was more subtle in his novels and stories, yet the same gospel message can be found there, as well. Sin, grace, compassion for the sick, poor and needy — all can be found in abundance in his work.

To prove that point, Gina Dalfonzo, editor of Dickensblog, has assembled a number of excerpts from his work for a new book called “The Gospel in Dickens.” It is one in a series of similar books from Plough Publishing House highlighting the Christian message found in the work of such writers as Dorothy L. Sayers, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.

Dickens novels are often critical of Christians, something Dalfonzo describes in her introduction as "policing his own side." Dickens had no problem with Christianity, just with those hypocrites whose own actions do not conform with their supposed beliefs. And Dickens counted himself among those hypocrites. His own actions toward his wife and family hardly matched the Christian ideal, and he knew it. At the core of the Christian faith, however, is not so much righteous living as grace for flawed living. This idea is perhaps most famously illustrated by Dickens in “A Christmas Carol,” when miserly Scrooge discovers both grace and joy. If God can forgive Scrooge, then why not Scrooge's creator?

Dalfonzo mines for gospel gold in the writer's best-known books, such as “Great Expectations” and “Oliver Twist,” as well as in some lesser-known stories, such as “The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain.” She divides these excerpts into three categories: Sin and Its Victims, Repentance and Grace and The Righteous Life. Out of context, these excerpts do carry the same impact they have when reading the novels themselves, although the editor does a good job of explaining the situation in each case. In all there are 36 excerpts from Dickens's fiction, as well as two letters the author wrote.

In all the book makes a good case that Dickens, whatever his own sins, had the gospel of Christ on his mind while writing his enduring stories. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Oct 30, 2020 |
The Gospel in Dickens commences with a foreword by Karen Swallow Prior (whose works I love). Next, editor Gina Dalfonzo introduces the compilation as well as some of Dickens’ history. The selections immediately follow and are sorted into three categories: (1) Sin and Its Victims, (2) Repentance and Grace, (3) The Righteous Life. More entries are devoted to Sin and Its Victims than the other categories and it sometimes felt heavy. When needed, I skipped around to the other sections for something more hopeful.

The Gospel in Dickens inspired me to check out a Charles Dickens biography and some of his works from my local library. While each reading selection is prefaced by a paragraph or two that explains the background of the selection, I sometimes felt a bit lost because I have not read his works recently. The book is best suited for Christian readers who have already enjoyed the works of Charles Dickens.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. ( )
  BeautyintheBinding | Oct 22, 2020 |
This book was so enjoyable! I love Dickens but haven't found the time to read his novels lately since they are quite an undertaking. This was a perfect way to get my Dickens "fix" in small portion sizes. I loved revisiting some of my favorites (David Copperfield, Oliver Twist) and being introduced to several I have not yet read (including Bleak House and Little Dorrit). The book is laid out in three parts: Sin and It's Victims, Repentance and Grace, and The Righteous Life with several vignettes from Dicken's various works that illustrate it. I recommend it to Dickens lovers who want to spend some leisure time with him and to those who have never read Dickens before as a great way to sample some of his best works. ( )
  CrookedLines | Oct 21, 2020 |
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