Restless, tireless, and prolific, Dickens “became an adjective in his own lifetime.”
As allotment of Oxford’s advisory Introduction series, Hartley (English/Univ. of Roehampton; Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women, 2008, etc.), academic in abode at the Charles Dickens Museum, offers a brisk, acutely acute overview of the British writer’s life, work, and legacy. Her beverage of Dickens’ adventures touches on accustomed points: the lonely, poverty-stricken childhood; a brief, boyish romance; marriage and the bearing of 10 children; his activity with extra Ellen Ternan; his long career as a announcer and editor; and his ballista to fame, at the age of 24, with the consecutive advertisement of The Pickwick Papers. Besides creating biographical context, Hartley acutely examines the capacity that affianced Dickens throughout his career, bedeviled by “his appraisal of the dehumanizing structures, ideologies, and bureaucracies of nineteenth-century Britain.” Because of his fame, Dickens was a approved apostle “in abutment of acceptable causes,” which included germ-free reforms, the enactment of schools for poor children, and the advance of altitude in workhouses and debtors prisons, article he recalled, darkly, from claimed experience. He could be dismissive and cynical about those in power: “My acceptance in the bodies governing, is on the whole, infinitesimal,” he already declared. He was, said George Orwell, “certainly a subversive writer,” and Hartley calls him “a life-long radical.” She judiciously extracts passages from Dickens’ above writings—David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, and the much-loved A Christmas Carol, to name a few—to body the author’s characterizations, plots, and style. His use of bewilderment affiliate endings, Hartley writes, was a action all-important in serial publication, which “builds cat-and-mouse and anxiety into the acceptation of the novel and makes them a acute allotment of the account experience.” Just as the term “Dickensian” has entered the English language, the novels accept endured in popularity throughout the decades.
A deft, authoritative, and engaging reappraisal of the abundant Victorian novelist.
Charles Dickens is credited with creating some of the world's best-known fictional characters, and is widely regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian age. Even before reading the works of Dickens many people have met him already in some form or another. His characters have such vitality that they have leapt from his pages to enjoy flourishing lives of their own: The Artful Dodger, Miss Havisham, Scrooge, Fagin, Mr Micawber, and many many more. His portrait is present on British ten-pound notes; he is a national icon, indeed himself a generator of what Englishness signifies.
In this book, Jenny Hartley explores the key themes running through Dickens's corpus of works, and considers how they reflect his attitudes towards the harsh realities of nineteenth century society and its institutions, such as the workhouses and prisons. Running alonside this is Dickens's relish of the carnivalesque; if there is a prison in almost every novel, there is also a theatre. She considers Dickens's multiple lives and careers: as magazine editor for two thirds of his working life, as travel writer and journalist, and his work on behalf of social causes including ragged schools and fallen women. She also shows how his public readings enthralled the readers he wanted to reach but also helped to kill him. Finally, Hartley considers what we mean when we use the term 'Dickensian' today, and how Dickens's enduring legacy marks him out as as a novelist different in kind from others.
- BookCharles Dickens
- Author:Jenny Hartley
- Publishing Date:2017-01-01
- Publisher:Oxford University Press
- Number Of pages:176