In a lengthy essay, The Hooded Utilitarian breaks down the 1846 novel The Wire, which was written by Horatio Bucklesby Ogden with illustrations by Baxter "Bubz" Black. Though the serial has been largely forgotten today, scholars note that Ogden greatly influenced his contemporary Charles Dickens:
The genius of The Wire lies in its sheer size and scope, its slow layering of complexity which could not have been achieved in any other way but the serial format. Dickens is often praised for his portrayal not merely of a set of characters and their lives, but of the setting as a character: the city itself an antagonist. Yet in The Wire, Bodymore is a far more intricate and compelling character than London in Dickens' hands; The Wire portrays society to such a degree of realism and intricacy that A Tale of Two Cities-or any other story-can hardly compare ...
In fact, Dickens, in later novels-which incriminate fundamental social institutions such as government (Little Dorrit), the justice system (Bleak House), and social class (A Tale of Two Cities, among others)-seems to have been influenced by The Wire. This is evidenced by the increased complexity of Dickens' novels, which, instead of following the rollicking adventures of one roguish but endearing protagonist, rather seek to build a complete picture of society. Instead of driving a linear plot forward, Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities and Bleak House, seeks to unfold the narrative outward, gradually uncovering different aspects of a socially complex world.
Many literary critics have also hailed one three-page scene in the novel (reproduced by The Hooded Utilitarian), which pioneered the use of the word "fuck." Period dramas are popular in Hollywood today, but clearly The Wire's difficult subject matter and course language make a film adaptation unlikely. Though, perhaps the material would work as some kind of cable TV miniseries.
"When It's Not Your Turn": The Quintessentially Victorian Vision Of Ogden's "The Wire" [The Hooded Utilitarian]