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Charles Dickens (Penguin Lives Biographies)by Jane Smiley
Synopses & Reviews
With the delectable wit, unforgettable characters, and challenging themes that have won her a Pulitzer Prize and national bestseller status, Jane Smiley naturally finds a kindred spirit in the author of classics such as Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. As "his novels shaped his life as much as his life shaped his novels," Smiley's Charles Dickens is at once a sensitive profile of the great master and a fascinating meditation on the writing life.
Smiley evokes Dickens as he might have seemed to his contemporaries: convivial, astute, boundlessly energetic-and lionized. As she makes clear, Dickens not only led the action-packed life of a prolific writer, editor, and family man but, balancing the artistic and the commercial in his work, he also consciously sustained his status as one of the first modern "celebrities."
Charles Dickens offers brilliant interpretations of almost all the major works, an exploration of his narrative techniques and his innovative voice and themes, and a reflection on how his richly varied lower-class cameos sprang from an experience and passion more personal than his public knew. Smiley's own "demon narrative intelligence" (The Boston Globe) touches, too, on controversial details that include Dickens's obsession with money and squabbles with publishers, his unhappy marriage, and the rumors of an affair.
Here is a fresh look at the dazzling personality of a verbal magician and the fascinating times behind the classics we read in school and continue to enjoy today.
"Her intelligent biography examines Dickens' life through his work, starting not with his birth but rather the beginnings of his literary career....Those seeking a straightforward biography of Dickens will have to look elsewhere, but Smiley's superb and thoughtful analysis should appeal to anyone familiar with the great author's work." Booklist
"As a novelist, Smiley brings an interesting perspective to her analysis of how Dickens would have used his novel writing to explore his own personal issues. The result is not a biography or a work of literary criticism but rather a general reading of his novels and the events of his life." Library Journal
"Smiley is a writer who knows and loves her craft; her exploration of Dickens's writing process is clearly aimed at the lay reader and novel-writer alike....The account is a fast read, glazed with humor even at its most poignant." Kirkus Reviews
Book News Annotation:
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley analyzes most of Dickens' major works, exploring his narrative techniques, his use of voice, themes in his work, and ways in which his life influenced his work and his novels influenced his life. 5.5x7.75<">.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A brilliantly insightful portrait of Charles Dickens-from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley.
With delectable wit and characteristic sensitivity, Jane Smiley presents a fresh, illuminating take on the life of Charles Dickens. Smiley naturally finds a kindred spirit in the author of such classics as Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol, who was not only a prolific writer but also one of the first modern "celebrities." She offers interpretations of many of Dickens's major works, exploring his narrative techniques and his innovative voice and themes. Smiley's Charles Dickens is at once a perceptive profile of the great master and a fascinating meditation on the writing life.
With delectable wit and unforgettable characters, "one of the premier novelists of her generation" ("The Washington Post") paints an exciting portrait of Charles Dickens, the 19th-century literary colossus.
About the Author
Jane Smiley's ten works of fiction include The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love and Good Will, Moo, A Thousand Acres (which won the Pulitzer Prize), and most recently the bestselling Horse Heaven.
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