I read Pickwick Papers as a child and wanted to be Sam Weller. Afraid that nothing would ever live up to the splendiferousness of Pickwick, I left Dickens alone through early adolescence- and then- at seventeen- fell deeply in love with Little Dorrit. I've read all the major novels except Barnaby Rudge (most of them at least twice). My politics- an apple-cheeked Christian socialism fuelled by rage at the Merdles and Tite-Barnacles (who still run the world)- are essentially Dickens's politics. I love many other novelists, but Dickens is in a class apart- and there have been times in my life when (like Charlie Chaplin) I couldn't be bothered with reading anyone else. No-one- before or since (and that even includes Shakespeare)- has ever been so lively.