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Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens Hardcover – May 13, 1999

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Readers
  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198662130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198662136
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,873,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-Drawing on an impressive roster of scholars both in the U.S. and Britain, this guide is a boon to understanding Dickens's life, work, ideas, and times. The alphabetically arranged entries include such topics as "amusements and recreation," "industry," "London," and "prisons and penal transportation." The writer's major works are also discussed, focusing on their inception and composition; publishing history; illustrations (in the original editions); sources and historical context; and plots, characters, and themes. Many of the signed articles include a bibliography. Black-and-white photographs, reproductions, and four maps accompany the text. Appendixes include a general bibliography, an alphabetical list of characters noting the work in which they appear, and a subject index. While there are other companions to the author's work, this is the most comprehensive.
Jo-Anne Weinberg, Greenburgh Public Library, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

One of the most popular writers of the nineteenth century, Charles Dickens created a world of unique and fascinating characters whose stories continue to captivate contemporary readers. During the past five years, a remarkable number of major reference sources pertaining to this beloved author have been published, among them George Newlin's Everyone in Dickens (Greenwood, 1995), Donald Hawes's Who's Who in Dickens (Routledge, 1998), and Paul Davis's Charles Dickens A to Z [RBB O 1 98].

In this latest compendium, Schlicke, a senior lecturer at Aberdeen University and noted Dickens specialist, has tapped the knowledge and expertise of more than 60 distinguished contributors to assemble a dictionary that encompasses not only Dickens's life and writings but also the entire period in which he lived. The more than 500 signed entries are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of the entries for Dickens's works, which appear somewhat out of sequence, with see references guiding the user to their correct location. Although scholarly, the entries are highly readable, and many include brief bibliographic references. In addition to entries on specific people, publications, institutions, places, genres, activities, and events, the dictionary also contains articles on a wide range of broader topics. Some of these relate directly to Dickens' life and works (e.g., Characterization, Homes of Dickens, Television adaptations of Dickens), while others deal with aspects of his times (e.g., Industry, Reform). Although some articles are only one or two paragraphs, many others are multipage essays, such as the 15-page entry London and the 11-page entry Criticism and scholarship. Entries on Dickens' novels follow a set format, which includes discussion of the work's inception, publication history, illustrations, sources, and critical reception, in addition to a brief plot summary. Wisely, Schlicke has chosen not to provide separate entries on individual characters, which would only duplicate the information in other reference sources; instead, he appends a list of names of characters keyed to the works in which they appear.

Enhancing the text are more than 50 black-and-white illustrations and four maps of places associated with Dickens. Other helpful features include a chronological chart that correlates major events in Dickens' life with significant historical and literary events, a Dickens family tree, and a general bibliography. The index identifies names, associations, publications, and other subjects that receive substantial treatment within broader articles. Unfortunately, however, it only notes the entry header(s) under which they appear, rather than giving a precise page reference. Providing additional access is a classified list of articles that groups entries under useful categories, such as Dickens' non-fiction, politics and government, and theatre and other kinds of entertainment.

This excellent work gives the user a renewed appreciation for the tremendous range of Dickens' interests and talents and provides fresh insights into the age in which he lived. Its strong emphasis on and extensive coverage of the political, social, and artistic milieu surrounding Dickens and his circle set it apart from the aforementioned Charles Dickens A to Z, which treats those aspects much more briefly. On the other hand, that compilation, with its 2,500 entries, offers its own unique strengths, including lengthy, detailed synopses of each novel and separate entries for individual characters, articles, and essays. Although there is inevitable overlap between the two works, they effectively complement each other. Charles Dickens A to Z is more appropriate for general readers and for undergraduate and high-school students, while the Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens is particularly suited for scholars and other serious researchers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an essential reference book for any serious student or reader of Dickens, though I would strongly recommend that one take the extra effort to obtain a copy in hardcover rather than paper. The two editions are entirely different productions. If one had held both editions on one's hand, the differences are blatant, but merely reading about them will not reveal how profoundly they vary from one another. The paperback has a single virtue: price. It is cheaper by a considerable margin. Looking at the pagination, one might imagine that the paper edition contains everything found in the hardback. The paper edition runs to 675 pages, while the hardback runs to 654. The hardback, however, in addition to being a far more attractive volume and containing some sections in a larger, more easily read typeface, contains a host of photographs, illustrations, and maps that greatly enhance the value of the volume. I would like to point out that while the hardback lists for $55.00, it can persistently be found on Amazon for far less than that. I obtained my copy remaindered on Amazon for $16.95, which is the same as the list price for the paperback.
I can't say enough about the quality of the articles in this volume. Top Dickens scholars from around the world have been recruited to write on a host of subjects, in particular on subjects that will cast light on the world in which Dickens lived and about which he wrote. Although his books are certainly not neglected, the emphasis is as much on Dickens and his world as on Dickens and his books. The goal of the book is clearly an understanding of Dickens in context, with the added belief that knowing his context will immeasurably deepen one's enjoyment and understanding of his works.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bookreader on April 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Oxford Readers Companion to Charles Dickens serves as an alphabetical tour of the life of the greatest novelist of the Victorian Era. With entries ranging from "A Becket, Gilbert" to "Yates, Frederick" this wonderfully engrossing reference book offers readers information about every aspect of the life, work, and historical environment in which the great man created magic. From analytical entries about every novel to biographical sketches of his friends and foes, this book truly brings Dickens to vivid and enjoyable life. No scholar of the 19th century novel should miss this comprenhensive work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joanne E. Theodorou on June 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So - so .....It was a bit disappointing as I thought all of the characters in Dickens novels would be annotated alphabetically thru out this reference book.
The characters are merely listed alongside the novel in which they appear.
That being said, there are some wonderful, informative essays at your fingertips contained in this work. Anyhow, this is an okay skeletal reference book.....if you want more depth, you have to get to the main reading room of the NYPL!!
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