Dickens is a much misunderstood and mis-approached writer, in that he tends to be read, particularly in the twentieth century, as a social commentator—like the great Victorians, a realist in his way. But he isn’t at all like that. His genre is actually more like a fairy tale—weird transformations, long voyages from which people come back altered, parental mysteries, semi-magical twists. Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop actually turned into an angel in the end. Melodramatic, not realistic, cartoonish—that’s what I realized.