‘By a backward light’

Dickens’s biblical influences
by
July 2021, no. 433
Buy this book

Dickens and the Bible: ‘What providence meant’ by Jennifer Gribble

Routledge, $252 hb, 228 pp

‘By a backward light’

Dickens’s biblical influences
by
July 2021, no. 433

It is well known that Charles Dickens draws an analogy between the novelist as creator and the Creator of the cosmos: ‘I think the business of art is to lay all [the] ground carefully, but with the care that conceals itself – to show, by a backward light, what everything has been working to – but only to suggest, until the fulfilment comes. These are the ways of Providence, of which ways, all art is but a little imitation.’ However, it is not generally recognised that Dickens supported this analogy with a deep knowledge of the Bible. Instead, the thinking that permeates his works is often seen as a facet of secular humanism. John Ruskin, for example, commented that for Dickens Christmas meant no more than ‘mistletoe and pudding – neither resurrection from the dead, nor rising of new stars, nor teaching of wise men, nor shepherds’.

Alan Dilnot reviews 'Dickens and the Bible: "What providence meant"' by Jennifer Gribble

Dickens and the Bible: ‘What providence meant’

by Jennifer Gribble

Routledge, $252 hb, 228 pp

Buy this book

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