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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

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David Copperfield

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David Copperfield Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Like so many fond parents I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child," wrote Charles Dickens. "And his name is David Copperfield."

Of all of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield most closely reflects the events of his own life. The story of an abandoned waif who discovers life and love in an indifferent world, this classic tale of childhood is populated with a cast of eccentrics, innocents, and villains who number among the author's greatest creations.

"David Copperfield is filled with characters of the most astonishing variety, vividness, and originality," noted Somerset Maugham. "They are not realistic and yet they abound with life. There never were such people as the Micawbers, Pegotty and Barkis, Traddles, Betsey Trotwood and Mr. Dick, Uriah Heep and his mother. They are fantastic inventions of Dickens's exultant imagination, but they have so much vigor, they are so consistent, they are presented with so much conviction, that you believe in them. They are extravagant, but not unreal, and when you have once to know them you can never quite forget them." T. S. Eliot agreed: "Dickens excelled in character; in the creation of characters of greater intensity than human beings." And Virginia Woolf concluded: "In David Copperfield, though char-

acters swarm and life flows into every creek and cranny, some common feelings--youth, gaiety, hope--envelops the tumult, brings the scattered parts together, and invests the most perfect of all the Dickens novels with an atmosphere of beauty."

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foun-

dation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.

Synopsis:

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England, where his father was a naval pay clerk. When he was five the family moved to Chatham, near Rochester, another port town. He received some education at a small private school but this was curtailed when his father's fortunes declined. More significant was his childhood reading, which he evoked in a memory of his father's library: 'From that blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Blas and Robinson Crusoe came out, a glorious host, to keep me company. They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of something beyond that place and time.'

When Dickens was ten the family moved to Camden Town, and this proved the beginning of a long, difficult period. (He wrote later of his coach journey, alone, to join his family at the new lodgings: 'I consumed my sandwiches in solitude and dreariness, and it rained hard all the way, and I

Synopsis:

Of all of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield most closely reflects the events of his own life. The story of an abandoned waif who discovers life and love in an indifferent world, this classic tale of childhood is populated with a cast of eccentrics, innocents, and villains who number among the author's greatest creations.

About the Author

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England, where his father was a naval pay clerk. When he was five the family moved to Chatham, near Rochester, another port town. He received some education at a small private school but this was curtailed when his father's fortunes declined. More significant was his childhood reading, which he evoked in a memory of his father's library: 'From that blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Blas and Robinson Crusoe came out, a glorious host, to keep me company. They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of something beyond that place and time.'

When Dickens was ten the family moved to Camden Town, and this proved the beginning of a long, difficult period. (He wrote later of his coach journey, alone, to join his family at the new lodgings: 'I consumed my sandwiches in solitude and dreariness, and it rained hard all the way, and I thought life sloppier than I had expected to find it.') When he had just turned twelve Dickens was sent to work for a manufacturer of boot blacking, where for the better part of a year he labored for ten hours a day, an unhappy experience that instilled him with a sense of having been abandoned by his family: 'No advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no support from anyone that I can call to mind, so help me God!' Around the same time Dickens's father was jailed for debt in the Marshalsea Prison, where he remained for fourteen weeks. After some additional schooling, Dickens worked as a clerk in a law office and taught himself shorthand; this qualified him to begin working in 1831 as a reporter in the House of Commons, where he was known for the speed with which he took down speeches.

By 1833 Dickens was publishing humorous sketches of London life in the Monthly Magazine, which were collected in book form as Sketches by 'Boz' (1836). These were followed by the publication in installments of the comic adventures that became The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1837), whose unprecedented popularity made the twenty-five-year-old author a national figure. In 1836 he married Catherinem Hogarth, who would bear him ten children over a period of fifteen years. Dickens's energies enabled him to lead an active family and social life, including an indulgence in elaborate amateur theatricals, while maintaining a literary productiveness of astonishing proportions. He characteristically wrote his novels for serial publication, and was himself the editor of many of the periodicals--Bentley's Miscellany, The Daily News, Household Words, All the Year Round--in which they appeared. Among his close associates were his future biographer John Forster and the younger Wilkie Collins, with whom he collaborated on fictional and dramatic works. In rapid succession he published Oliver Twist (1838), Nicholas Nickleby (1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1841), and Barnaby Rudge (1841), sometimes working on several novels simultaneously.

Dickens's celebrity led to a tour of the United States in 1842. There he met Longfellow, Irving, Bryant, and other literary figures, and was received with an enthusiasm that was dimmed somewhat by the criticisms Dickens expressed in his American Notes (1842) and in the American chapters of Martin Chuzzlewit (1844). The appearance of A Christmas Carol in 1843 sealed his position as the most widely popular writer of his time; it became an annual tradition for him to write a story for the season, among the most memorable of which were The Chimes (1844) and The Cricket on the Hearth (1845). He continued to produce novels at only a slightly diminished rate, publishing Dombey and Son in 1848 and David Copperfield in 1850; of the latter, his personal favorite among his books, he wrote to Forster: 'If I were to say half of what Copperfield makes me feel tonight how strangely, even to you, I should be turned inside out! I seem to be sending some part of myself into the Shadowy World.'

From this point on his novels tended to be more elaborately constructed and harsher and less buoyant in tone than his earlier works. These late novels include Bleak House (1853), Hard Times (1854), Little Dorrit (1857), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and Great Expectations (1861).

Our Mutual Friend, published in 1865, was his last completed novel, and perhaps the most somber and savage of them all. Dickens had separated from his wife in 1858--he had become involved a year earlier with a young actress named Ellen Ternan--and the ensuing scandal had alienated him from many of his former associates and admirers. He was weakened by years of overwork and by a near-fatal railroad disaster during the writing of Our Mutual Friend. Nevertheless he embarked on a series of public readings, including a return visit to America in 1867, which further eroded his health. A final work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a crime novel much influenced by Wilkie Collins, was left unfinished upon his death on June 9, 1870, at the age of 58.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679641346
Publisher:
Modern Library
Subject:
Fiction
Author:
Dickens, Charles
Author:
Charles, Dickens
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
Young men
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Fiction-Classics
Subject:
Fiction : Classics
Subject:
British and irish fiction (fictional works by
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
England Social life and customs 19th century Fiction.
Subject:
main_subject
Subject:
all_subjects
Publication Date:
19981001
Binding:
ELECTRONIC
Language:
English
Pages:
821

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Coming of Age

David Copperfield
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Product details 821 pages Modern Library - English 9780679641346 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England, where his father was a naval pay clerk. When he was five the family moved to Chatham, near Rochester, another port town. He received some education at a small private school but this was curtailed when his father's fortunes declined. More significant was his childhood reading, which he evoked in a memory of his father's library: 'From that blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Blas and Robinson Crusoe came out, a glorious host, to keep me company. They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of something beyond that place and time.'

When Dickens was ten the family moved to Camden Town, and this proved the beginning of a long, difficult period. (He wrote later of his coach journey, alone, to join his family at the new lodgings: 'I consumed my sandwiches in solitude and dreariness, and it rained hard all the way, and I

"Synopsis" by , Of all of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield most closely reflects the events of his own life. The story of an abandoned waif who discovers life and love in an indifferent world, this classic tale of childhood is populated with a cast of eccentrics, innocents, and villains who number among the author's greatest creations.
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