Christopher Hitchens writes that if he were transported back to the 19th Century to spend "a long and arduous evening in the alehouses and outer purlieus of London," he'd want to be doing it in the company of Charles Dickens. "He may not have had Shakespeare’s or Eliot’s near omniscience about human character," and he may have had a "distraught" sexual life, but there is something formidable about Dickens, writes Hitchens.