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Charles Dickens, according to his son Henry, “never made a point of his religious convictions,” which were “very strong and deep.” They were also liberal and rather loose. Although he sometimes attended Anglican services and was well-versed in Scripture, Dickens was not interested in theological debates, and he memorably mocked religious zealotry and hypocrisy in his fiction. He ends The Life of OurLord, a ­children’s book, with this straightforward exhortation: “Remember!—It is Christianity TO DO GOOD, always—even to those who do evil to us.”

Gina Dalfonzo’s The Gospel in Dickens is a collection of well-chosen excerpts from Dickens’s writings illustrating his persistent interest in Christian themes. As Dalfonzo notes in her introduction, Dickens was a satirist who grew increasingly aware of his own moral flaws, his frequent inability to “live up to that perfect standard exhibited by Christ.” From the start, his writing reflects “the fundamental truths of fall, repentance, redemption, and restoration found in the Gospel.” Dalfonzo’s excerpts illustrate the Christian elements in such novels as David CopperfieldLittle Dorrit, and Bleak House, and in lesser-known pieces from Dickens’s first book, Sketches by Boz.

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