So who was the genius who created Pip, Joe, Miss Havisham, Estella, Magwitch, Mr. Pumblechook, Mrs. Joe Gargery, and a host of other unforgettable characters? There are some excellent classic biographies on Charles Dickens, notably the delightful Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens by G. K. Chesterton. You may read it free from the Gutenberg Project, and listen free from Librivox. (And if you haven’t previously encountered the witty and wonderful voice of G.K. Chesterton, you can thank us later.)
If you’d prefer a more modern biography, The Economist has an excellent review of two new ones released in honor of Dickens upcoming 200th birthday. This excellent overview of Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist By Robert Douglas-Fairhurst and Charles Dickens: A Life By Claire Tomalin is posted on the website of The Economist.
Excerpted from Wikipedia: Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed unrivaled popularity and fame during his lifetime, and he remains popular, being responsible for some of English literature’s most iconic novels and characters.
Many of his writings were originally published serially, in monthly installments or parts, a format of publication which Dickens himself helped popularize at that time. Unlike other authors who completed entire novels before serialisation, Dickens often created the episodes as they were being serialised. The practice lent his stories a particular rhythm, punctuated by cliffhangers to keep the public looking forward to the next installment. The continuing popularity of his novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print.
Dickens’ work has been highly praised for its realism, comedy, mastery of prose, unique personalities and concern for social reform by writers such as Leo Tolstoy, George Gissing and G.K. Chesterton ; though others, such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, have criticized it for sentimentality and implausibility.
Here’s the blog challenge question for Thursday, October 6, 2011.
How does Dickens’ writing reflect his life experiences?
If you’d like to participate in the challenge, write a post on your own blog on the topic of the day, then jump back to this page to leave your post title and link in the comment section so that others can enjoy what you’ve written. Be sure to share your posts in Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. You may read the complete background of the challenge on the Day 1 post.
“Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man – the biography of the man himself cannot be written.”