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Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist Hardcover – August 29, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812 to an impecunious naval pay clerk who spent time in debtor's prison. Young Dickens was a literary lad who dreamed of becoming famous. He wanted to be an actor but instead became a pariliamentary reporter as well as a newspaper journalist. Dickens began to write short stories. His sketches of London life were published in "Sketches by Boz" His first novel "Pickwick Papers" was published in twenty monthly parts in 1836-37 becoming wildly popular with all classes of society. The picaresque comic novel follows the adventures of Mr. Pickwick and his servant Sam Weller. Dickens went on to produce "Oliver Twist" the first novel he wrote which uses Charles Dickens on the title page rather than that of Boz." Dickens was the author of several three decker Victorian novels which are still widely read today: "Barnaby Rudge"; "Dombey and Sons"' "Martin Chuzzlewit"; "The Old Curiosity Shop"; "Little Dorrit"; "David Copperfield"; "Hard Times"; Nicholas Nickleby"; "Our Mutual Friend" "Bleak House" "A Tale of Two Cities"; "Great Expectations" and his final unfinished novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." ( I did not list the avove books in the order Dickens wrote them). Dickens also wrote many short stories and articles on a wide range of social issues.Read more ›
By focusing on Dickens' formative years - as a man and as an writer, the writer of this biography helped me to envision the progressive formation of Dickens' ideas, themes, fears, prejudices and obsessions. I see this new works as an excellent supplement to prior biographies. The author gives us a sense of how Dickens the man was impacted by the Victorian London in which he came to manhood, and how Dickens the author influenced the late stages of Queen Victoria's reign. The book does a particularly good job of taking watershed moments in Dickens' life - his time int he blacking factory - and demonstrating how that indelible experience informed many of his plot lines and fictional characters.
There have been a number of decent biographies of Dickens published recently but they tend to fall into two categories: the big, bloated book that attempts to cover his entire lifetime and books that focus on a special topic, often of no use but to scholars. Though this book would technically fall into the second camp, it nicely straddles the line between the scholarly and the book for the general reader. In particular, it is extremely well-written, making it easy to follow his argument even with only a general knowledge of Dickens life and work.
And his argument, which is generally lost in a full biography of Dickens covering his lengthy career as a successful writer, is twofold. First, that it was by no means clear that Dickens would become successful author. Early in his working life he tried a number of occupations and could have easily spent his life as something else--a lawyer, a straight journalist, or an actor, among the most prominent. It was quite awhile before Dickens settled down and considered himself a writer primarily.
Second, which is less purposeful, perhaps, but very obvious and extremely well done, is the attention Mr. Douglas-Fairhurst draws to the connection between Dickens' early life and the themes he comes back to again and again throughout his life in his work.Read more ›
The book is excellent and a must-read for anyone interested in Dickens or early-mid 19th century England. A fascinating and daring search through the books and the times to enable more analysis of Dickens the young man.
The Kindle version is quite simply a disgrace. Here is a book, scholarly in the research and writing, with a full index etc, but without the drawings (referred to in the text as figures) frequently relied on in the text as evidence for arguments made by the author. These drawings were not simply decorative. Even if they were, they should still be there, and with hyperlinks to them.
There are 28 of these drawings, all relied on by the author. It is extraordinary to have the text culled of essential information by Kindle without any warning that if you buy the Kindle version it will be incomplete, you will not be getting the whole book. You can see for yourselves the inconsequential difference in price between the paper and Kindle versions.
Contents 5 Stars, Kindle 1 Star
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Before Charles Dickens was “Dickens,” he was “Boz,” or “Boz!” with an exclamation point. But one of the great novelists of the 19th century didn’t spring spontaneously from the... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Glynn Young
I purchased this for my aspiring-writer-husband, and he LOVES it! He enjoys reading about other authors and how they came to publish.Published on December 5, 2012 by Amy
Counterfactual narrative, the "What if?" mode of story-telling, is to history what titillation is to sex: both promise more than they deliver. Read morePublished on September 19, 2012 by Opinion
My brother-in-law is a history buff and especially fond of Charles Dickens. He was thrilled with this gift and comments on his enjoyment of it on every visit.Published on March 12, 2012 by GREGORY G
Any person interested in Charles Dickens will enjoy this book on the great author's early career.
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst possesses an encyclopedic knowledge not only... Read more
In his book, Dr. Douglas-Fairhurst throw the Writer and his Characters in a cauldron, and cook them so profoundly one is not able to tell who's who. Read morePublished on December 23, 2011 by Luiz G. M. Lapertosa
The book begins slowly--writing is a bit dry and sophmoric in the beginning and I almost gave up on it. However, by the time I was one-third through, it really picked up. Read morePublished on December 15, 2011 by Betty B