Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens

ISBN 13: 9780198662532

Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens

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9780198662532: Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens

For anyone wishing to learn more about Dickens's life and works and the literary, political, and social milieu in which he lived, there is no better place to turn than The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Written by a distinguished team of over 60 scholars, and edited by Paul Schlicke, former president of The Dickens Society, The Companion offers a detailed exploration of the private man and the public figure. More than 500 alphabetical entries chart the age in which Dickens lived and worked, the places which were significant to him, and the ideas and social theories of his time. Contributors draw upon recent work in areas such as publishing history, book illustration, periodical reviewing, women's studies, and cultural studies to offer a synthesis of the current state of Dickens scholarship. Also included is a complete chronology of Dickens's life, a list of characters and of abbreviations, a thematic overview, an extensive bibliography, and over 50 beautiful black-and-white illustrations and four maps to complement the volume. Most importantly, The Companion illuminates the intricate connections between Dickens's life, his writings, and his time. Anyone wishing to more fully enjoy the crowded world of Dickens's imagination will be superbly aided by the wealth of information gathered here on Dickens's reality.

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About the Author:


Paul Schlicke, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Aberdeen, was President of the Dickens Society in 1994. He is an internationally renowned Dickens scholar.

From Booklist:

One of the most popular writers of the nineteenth century, Charles Dickens created a world of unique and fascinating characters whose stories continue to captivate contemporary readers. During the past five years, a remarkable number of major reference sources pertaining to this beloved author have been published, among them George Newlin's Everyone in Dickens (Greenwood, 1995), Donald Hawes's Who's Who in Dickens (Routledge, 1998), and Paul Davis's Charles Dickens A to Z [RBB O 1 98].

In this latest compendium, Schlicke, a senior lecturer at Aberdeen University and noted Dickens specialist, has tapped the knowledge and expertise of more than 60 distinguished contributors to assemble a dictionary that encompasses not only Dickens's life and writings but also the entire period in which he lived. The more than 500 signed entries are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of the entries for Dickens's works, which appear somewhat out of sequence, with see references guiding the user to their correct location. Although scholarly, the entries are highly readable, and many include brief bibliographic references. In addition to entries on specific people, publications, institutions, places, genres, activities, and events, the dictionary also contains articles on a wide range of broader topics. Some of these relate directly to Dickens' life and works (e.g., Characterization, Homes of Dickens, Television adaptations of Dickens), while others deal with aspects of his times (e.g., Industry, Reform). Although some articles are only one or two paragraphs, many others are multipage essays, such as the 15-page entry London and the 11-page entry Criticism and scholarship. Entries on Dickens' novels follow a set format, which includes discussion of the work's inception, publication history, illustrations, sources, and critical reception, in addition to a brief plot summary. Wisely, Schlicke has chosen not to provide separate entries on individual characters, which would only duplicate the information in other reference sources; instead, he appends a list of names of characters keyed to the works in which they appear.

Enhancing the text are more than 50 black-and-white illustrations and four maps of places associated with Dickens. Other helpful features include a chronological chart that correlates major events in Dickens' life with significant historical and literary events, a Dickens family tree, and a general bibliography. The index identifies names, associations, publications, and other subjects that receive substantial treatment within broader articles. Unfortunately, however, it only notes the entry header(s) under which they appear, rather than giving a precise page reference. Providing additional access is a classified list of articles that groups entries under useful categories, such as Dickens' non-fiction, politics and government, and theatre and other kinds of entertainment.

This excellent work gives the user a renewed appreciation for the tremendous range of Dickens' interests and talents and provides fresh insights into the age in which he lived. Its strong emphasis on and extensive coverage of the political, social, and artistic milieu surrounding Dickens and his circle set it apart from the aforementioned Charles Dickens A to Z, which treats those aspects much more briefly. On the other hand, that compilation, with its 2,500 entries, offers its own unique strengths, including lengthy, detailed synopses of each novel and separate entries for individual characters, articles, and essays. Although there is inevitable overlap between the two works, they effectively complement each other. Charles Dickens A to Z is more appropriate for general readers and for undergraduate and high-school students, while the Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens is particularly suited for scholars and other serious researchers.

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