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The Critical Writings of Charles Dickens: A resource for scholars and Dickens lovers


The Critical Writings on Charles Dickens presents a coherent picture of Dickens as an aesthetic critic, with periodical articles, prefaces to each of his novels, letters, and speeches grouped topically. It brings together in one convenient source his literary and art criticism and presents a Dickens concerned with the form of art, as well as with its purpose and message, in his own novels, and in literature and art in general.


The Critical Writings on Charles Dickens falls into two main categories:

The first is technical criticism of the novels, plays, poems, and periodicals, much of which refers directly to Dickens’ own novels. Included are Dickens’ prefaces and letters about the novels as well as his plans for the five periodicals he edited, addresses to the public, letters to contributors suggesting revisions, numerous articles and comments-in letters and speeches-on contemporary novels, plays, and poems.

The second category, shows Dickens’ belief in the strong relationship between art and society. His lifelong interest in the status of the author is reflected in letters and articles on international copyright. Other articles and letters express what is both stated and implicit in the novels: imagination must be a part of every person’s life. 

The resulting guide to Dickens’ critical writings should be useful to any reader who wishes to know more about Dickens’ critical outlook and about Victorian aesthetics and taste.

Best wishes on your Dickens journey!


Alma Kadragic and Roberta Nusim, Editors 
Hannah Smith-Drelich, Research Assistant

About the Scholars

Alma Kadragic and Roberta Nusim––both '64BA, ‘66MA at the City College of the City University of New York––became acquainted as editors of The Campus newspaper. In 1969 they met a publisher who was intrigued when they told him that their university housed original volumes of Charles Dickens' publications, personal papers, letters, and speeches. These valuable documents had been collected by one of their professors, the Dickensian scholar Edgar Johnson, author of a two-volume biography of Dickens.

With the 1970 centennial of Charles Dickens' death a year away, the publisher was looking for a new book about Dickens and asked Kadragic and Nusim for a proposal. They went to the stacks, pored over copies of Dickens' periodicals and unearthed speeches and extensive correspondence with the major figures of his day on many important literary and artistic topics. Thus The Critical Writings of Charles Dickens was born.

After spending months with volumes of Household Words and All The Year Round and his other writings, just as Kadragic and Nusim were about to submit their completed 1000+ page manuscript, their publisher went out of business. Too late to find another publisher in time for the 1970 centennial, the young women packed the pages away and moved on with their lives.

After completing a Ph.D. at the City University of New York with a dissertation on nature in Dickens' novels, Kadragic travelled the globe as a television journalist including a long stint as bureau chief for ABC News in Warsaw during the revolutions in Eastern Europe. She left ABC in 1990 to start a PR agency in Poland and came back to the US after 20 years spent mainly in Europe. In 2005 Kadragic went to the Gulf to teach in the UAE where she is Program Director for New Programs in Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, an Australian institution.

Realizing there was a need for teaching materials that would engage students, Nusim began a long career as an educator and marketing entrepreneur. During her years as founder and president of two companies, Lifetime Learning Systems, and Young Minds Inspired, she and her teams developed award winning educational outreach programs for major film studios, television networks, public television, government agencies, and Fortune 100 companies.

In the autumn of 2011 Nusim and Kadragic revisited their earlier manuscript and updated it for the digital age, with the help of researcher, Hannah Smith-Drelich, in time for the February 7, 2012 anniversary of Dickens birth.

The Weiner Nusim Foundation, an educational not-for-profit organization that Nusim founded in 1998 to provide free educational materials to a variety of adult and youth audiences, became the vehicle that brought The Critical Writings of Charles Dickens to life.

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