- Paperback: 704 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Thus edition (December 14, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780198662532
- ISBN-13: 978-0198662532
- ASIN: 019866253X
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 4.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,949,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens Paperback – December 14, 2000
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"A composite portrait of the writer and the age. It will prove invaluable to scholars, readers, and admirers of Dickens into the next century and beyond."--The Times (London)
"This excellent work gives the user a renewed appreciation for the tremendous range of Dickens's 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 surround Dickens and his circle set it apart from...Charles Dickens A to Z, which treats those aspects much more briefly."--Booklist
"The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens succeeds wonderfully in its stated aim 'to illuminate the active interrelation between the man, his writings and activities, and his time.' It is a dense compendium of scholarship, but it is also leavened with delightful details."--Times Literary Supplement (London)
"This book represents an important contemporary resource, of value to both the general reader and the specialist."--Library Journal
"Paul Schlicke provides an impressive depth of literary and historical context--from Dr. Johnson's influence on Dickens to Dickens's attitude toward Jews and the publishing history of his magazine, Household Words."--Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Paul Schlicke, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Aberdeen, was President of the Dickens Society in 1994. He is an internationally renowned Dickens scholar.
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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.
My lone complaint with the book is the book does not contain a usable index or list of characters. There is an alphabetical list of all characters in Dickens's books at the end, but such a list only tells you what work a character appears in, not who they are. If you are dipping back into a novel of Dickens with the intent of enjoying a chapter or two (as opposed to rereading the entire work from beginning to end), one might not remember whom a particular individual is. It would have been nice to have a one or two line explanation of whom each character is, in addition to what work in which they appeared. I believe this would have enhanced the value of this as a reference work.
The inherent problem of any reference work like this will be the degree to which it is usable. There is a host of information, but how can it be accessed and recovered? This volume suffers to some degree, but Paul Schlicke has gone to great lengths to multiply the number of aides to teasing out the book's information. The articles are organized alphabetically, but there is a wealth of indexes. There is, for instance, a "Classified Contents List," that has headings such as "Dickens's Reputation," and subheadings under that like "Critics and scholars of Dickens" and "Scholarly and critical approaches to Dickens," with titles of articles under each. By reading those articles, one finds the information one needs. There is some overlap with the book's index (which tends to refer to article titles rather than page numbers--perhaps that was in order to accommodate both the hardback and paperback editions, which have different pagination) and the "Classified Contents List," but these provide two different approaches to obtaining the information one needs.
This is not the only book on Dickens that a reader of Dickens would want to own. One would certainly want to refer to a biography by someone like Peter Ackroyd or Edgar Johnson, or perhaps a critical appreciation like that of G. K. Chesterton. But I would definitely place it on the short list of books that one would like to own.
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!!