This gave rise to a brief but passionate debate. One member enthused about Dickens in general pointing out that his characters have become part of the English language because they personify types which are commonly encountered. Others demurred feeling that this usage is declining as the books become less well known.
There was also a split about the importance of Dickens in illuminating the historical record. Pickwick Papers was the first of a prolific output and roughly dates from 1830. At least one member thought this showed vividly what life was like then while another argued that this time is so far removed that it appears incredibly old fashioned. Pickwick Papers describes a world before the well known changes in Victorian life. For example travel was by horse drawn coach rather than the steam railway.
Pickwick Papers is regarded as a comic and episodic work as opposed to most later work which is rather bleak with a continuing dramatic story. It is true in that Pickwick Papers has a light hearted tone. One joke formed from a play on words was cited but generally the humour is situational rather than jokey.