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Dickens's London (Armchair Traveller)by Peter Clark
Synopses & Reviews
No writer can lay claim to making a city the principal character of their novels as Charles Dickens did with London. A near photographic memory made his contact with London indelible from a young age. Though these early hardships required the filter of literature to numb the humiliation he felt about his humble origins.
From his Camden Town landlady Elizabeth Roylance finding her way into literary characterization as Mrs. Pipchin in Dombey and Son to the way in which his working day as a young clerk at Gray's Inn informed Bleak House and the appropriation of his colleague Bob Fagin's name to his notorious villain in Oliver Twist, the people and places of Dickens's London are a constant and pervading presence through his novels. From the coaching inns to the lower reaches of the Thames, London was the inexhaustible "character" he was drawn back to again and again.
Published amid the two-hundredth anniversary celebrations of Charles Dickens' birth in 1811 and in the wake of the major "Dickens at 200" exhibition at the The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, Dickens's London is a remarkable study of how a city can inform and ignite the imagination. Five walks with maps through Dickensian London make this the perfect accompaniment for a trip to the British capitol.
Peter Clark has written books on Henry Hallam, Marmaduke Pickthall, and Wilfred Thesiger. He is a translator from Arabic and a founder trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Published on the 200th anniversary of Dickenss birth, a celebration of the London he created in his fictional works.
Few novelists have written so intimately about a city in the way that Charles Dickens wrote about London. A nearphotographic memory made his contact with the city indelible from a very young age and it remained his constant focus. Virginia Woolf maintained that, "we remodel our psychological geography when we read Dickens," as he produces "characters who exist not in detail, not accurately or exactly, but abundantly in a cluster of wild yet extraordinarily revealing remarks." But the "character" he was drawn back to throughout his novels was London itself, all aspects of the capital from the coaching inns of his early years to the taverns and watermen of the Thames; these were the constant cityscapes of his life and work. Based on five walks through central London, Peter Clark illuminates the settings of Dickens's greatest works, his life, his journalism and his fiction. He also explores "The First Suburbs" (Camden Town, Chelsea, Greenwich, Hampstead, Highgate and Limehouse) as they feature in Dickens's writing.
About the Author
PETER CLARK has divided his interests between Middle East studies and Britain in the nineteenth century. He was born in Sheffield in 1939 and has degrees from the Universities of Keele and Leicester and worked for the British Council for thirty years, mostly in the Arab world. He has led cultural tours in Syria and Turkey. He has written books on Henry Hallam, Marmaduke Pickthall and Wilfred Thesiger, edited The Lefties Guide to Britain (Politico's, 2005), co-edited The Iraqi Marshlands, A Human and Environmental Study (Politico's, London, 2002) and has translated eight books - six fiction and two history - from Arabic.. His last book published is Istanbul in the 'Cities of the Imagination' series, published by Signal Books, Oxford, 2010. He is currently writing a book on Damascus for the same publisher. An occasional broadcaster and a regular reviewer of books for Asian Affairs, he is a cultural consultant, a Founder Trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and chairman of the Frome Society for Local Study.
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