The Pickwick Papers is not a Victorian document: it belongs to a sunnier time, which perhaps had never existed. The group of novels that follow, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, is charged with the atmosphere of the thirties. They have the Radical faith in progress, the Radical dislike of obstruction and privilege, the Radical indifference to the historic appeal. But they part from the Radicalism of the Benthamites in their equal indifference to the scientific appeal. Dickens’s ideal England was not very far from Robert Owen’s. But it was to be built by some magic of goodwill overcoming the egoism of progress; not by law, and most emphatically not by reason.” — G. M. Young, Victorian England: Portrait of an Age

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Last modified 16 November 2019