Becoming Dickens: The Invetion of a Novelist

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9780674072237: Becoming Dickens: The Invetion of a Novelist
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This book captures the chameleon Dickens as a product of his era before he became its creator. Publishers Weekly 20110606 Douglas-Fairhurst's acute and incisive analysis of the contemporary reception of Dickens's journalism and then his first serialized fiction reveals how Dickens's keen observations and storytelling talent allowed him to rise above his station, as he forged his experiences into fiction...A perceptive and speculative biography. -- Lonnie Weatherby Library Journal 20110801 A convincing portrait of budding genius. -- Bryce Christensen Booklist 20111001 Robert Douglas-Fairhurst sets out to counter what he sees as the literary man-of-destiny version of Dickens, to recover the uncertainty, muddle and loose ends...Douglas-Fairhurst covers much ground, but one of his central ideas is Dickens's pervasive sense of what might have been. He sees it in the false trails and shadow plots (take Great Expectations, where Pip imagines himself in one story though is really in another), in his doublings among characters and in his jostling possibilities and competing outcomes (for instance in A Christmas Carol). Becoming Dickens is an ingenious, playful and often brilliant analysis as much as it is a narrative. The Economist 20111001 The great tide of Dickensiana, to celebrate the bicentenary of the author's birth in February 2012, has already begun to appear in the shops. While much of the attention will be focused on Claire Tomalin's Charles Dickens: A Life, my own favorite is Robert Douglas-Fairhurst's Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist. -- D. J. Taylor The Independent 20110925 [A] subtle and searching book...Dickens is immortal and inexhaustible, and there will be more books in the lead-up to the 200th anniversary of his birth next year. If any of them outshine [this one] we shall be luckier than mere mortals deserve. -- John Carey Sunday Times 20111002 Douglas-Fairhurst's Becoming Dickens ponders the question of how this phenomenal man happened. He identifies a series of self-defining moments in the process...Douglas-Fairhurst has all of Dickens, it seems, at his fingertips and his ear is cocked for every significant echo...What is extraordinarily fresh in Becoming Dickens is Douglas-Fairhurst's ability to support [his] arguments by sensitive explication de texte...Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reads Dickens the author with brilliant acuity. If [this book is a] harbinger of what is to come in the bicentennial year, 2012 will be a memorial fully worthy of the great Boz. -- John Sutherland Literary Review 20111001 [A] revealing and groundbreaking study, which succeeds by focusing, narrowly, on the early years in Dickens's career as a writer in the 1830s. -- Michiko Kakutani New York Times 20111025 Original and elegant...Douglas-Fairhurst, who has every line ever written by Dickens at his fingertips, inhabits them; he shows us the internal process of the writing, revealing the hidden jokes, the coded messages, the ways in which "the most central and eccentric literary figure of the age" wove his other selves into his texts. -- Frances Wilson Daily Telegraph 20111022 "Why did Dickens spend his entire life writing stories?" [Virginia] Woolf wondered. "What was his conception?"...Robert Douglas-Fairhurst's Becoming Dickens is the freshest and most insightful book I have read on this great theme since my first schoolboy reading of [Humphry] House['s The Dickens World]...It is hard to imagine a better book on Dickens than Douglas-Fairhurst's appearing in the coming months. I shall treasure it...Harvard University Press has produced, for Douglas-Fairhurst, a fine volume in the best tradition of American bookmaking: nice paper, elegant dust wrapper and binding, a volume to keep on your shelf forever. -- A.N. Wilson New Statesman 20111010 [A] perceptive and original study. -- Jenny Uglow The Guardian 20111007 We learn why Dickens wrote the way he did and why it resonated so much with readers of the time. And though this is closely tied to social change in the industrial age, Douglas-Fairhurst neatly sidesteps tired, modern-day rants about class tension, diving right to the human element of the matter...Douglas-Fairhurst's immersive approach to Dickens has one striking effect: scattering Dickensian plot notes all over the place like gumdrops, he makes you want to read Dickens's original text. For those who never found Dickens the most compelling of authors, even of nineteenth-century authors (yours truly included) Douglas-Fairhurst provides plenty of reasons to take a second look...The Douglas-Fairhurst biography is, if nothing else, a brilliant vindication of textual analysis...Douglas-Fairhurst [is writing] the story of the writer--but in probing the novelist's writings, Douglas-Fairhurst might wind up getting closer to the man than the traditional biographer does; conceivably, to understand an artist's life and humanity, you're better off going straight to his art. -- Heather Horn The Atlantic online 20111011 [A] lively and detailed book...Douglas-Fairhurst serves as a sharp-eyed, sharp-witted, yet sympathetic tour guide to the young Dickens's strange world and equally strange sensibility. -- David Gates New York Times Book Review 20111106 Throughout, the book is alive to [the] ways in which Dickens recycled his own experience and obsessions...In very Dickensian fashion, the book continually shimmies between subjects...From clerks and clothes we move to the idea of costume and performance, seamlessly conjuring up Dickens's passion for amateur theatricals and his early experiments with farce. And no sidestep is misplaced. The influence of the theatre proves essential for understanding the young writer, with the book charting the death of Dickens the playwright as much as the birth of Dickens the novelist...[Douglas-Fairhurst's] quirky approach brings color to scenes that too often exist only in black-and-white. For a vivid introduction to a writer and an age, I can think of few better places to begin. -- Matthew Richardson The Spectator 20111102 [A] scintillating study...Douglas-Fairhurst...sets out to establish how Dickens became the type of writer (and, by extension, the type of man) he was. The result is an exercise in anti-teleology that, rather than showing how each step along the path of his apprentice years led to eventual triumph, explores how the roads not taken still leave their ghost trail in Dickens's art...Douglas-Fairhurst's trick...is to take the various stages of Dickens's pre-authorial life ("lost child," clerk, parliamentary reporter) and show how he projected them into his books, creating a series of "refracted self-images" that give nearly everything he wrote an ominous personal significance...Becoming Dickens is a high-class critical study of Dickens's technique. -- D. J. Taylor Wall Street Journal 20111029 Instead of trying to cast the whole life in crisp relief, [Douglas-Fairhurst] takes a piece--from the beginning to Pickwick--and turns it slowly in the light. His idea is that if we draw on all we've come to know about Dickens, we might capture the density of self-in-society, especially this blooming self in this bristling society. So we often move a day or an hour at a time in Becoming Dickens, watching the twitchy uncertain discovery of a vocation and then the thrill when this writer realizes he's a genius. Douglas-Fairhurst has a clever idea that also happens to work: As the young Dickens moves through London, the biography collects fictional episodes that correspond to the life-stage. So when Dickens is thrown to the blacking factory, Becoming Dickens gathers the tales of lost and abandoned children that will unspool through the career. When he's an apprentice in a law office (and a career as a writer is still notional), we meet the tribe of clerks who stumble through the novels' pages. It could have felt like clunky machinery, but the approach deftly shows how much of the future writer lives within the present journalist and the would-be actor. Douglas-Fairhurst lingers over phrases that echo back from the end of the career to the beginnings. He sees life and work as one work; and by slowing everything down, he comes closer than anyone before to cracking the mystery of the erupting young Dickens: the mix of frantic self-making and joyous cordiality. -- Michael Levenson Slate 20111107 [Douglas-Fairhurst] devotes 336 thoughtful and lively pages to several formative years from the 1830s, in which Dickens grew from an unknown shorthand reporter in Parliament to the famous author of The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist. The resulting close-up portrait is fascinating... Douglas-Fairhurst has a gift for apt and surprising description...With style and wit he explores how Dickens went about growing and nurturing the voice and vision that is, after all, the only reason we remember him or care to read about his life. -- Michael Sims Washington Post 20111111 Douglas-Fairhurst explores how Dickens's evolution from impoverished child to middle-class professional shaped his artistic development and gave him unique insight into the Victorian zeitgeist. Characters like Oliver Twist and David Copperfield are windows into the vibrant, tumultuous period that made Dickens possible. Their triumphs and travails feel real because they mirror the author's own difficult adolescence...Becoming Dickens is not just the biography of a man; it's about the birth of a particular way of life, which provided fertile ground for artistic triumphs that still resonate today. It's a reminder that talent, however great, cannot thrive in a world in which the avenues of growth are reserved for the privileged. -- Michael Patrick Brady Boston Globe 20111112 [A] spirited account of Dickens's early years...Dickens's restless energy makes him an untidy and sometimes paradoxical subject, but it is what gave his writing its lasting power. The strength of Douglas-Fairhurst's book Becoming Dickens lies in its exploration of these contradictions as they are embedded in early Victorian culture. He is especially sharp on the tensions of social class. -- Dinah Birch Times Literary Supplement 20111118 Robert Douglas-Fairhurst's Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist...

From the Publisher:

Becoming Dickens tells the story of how an ambitious young Londoner became England's greatest novelist. In following the twists and turns of Charles Dickens's early career, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst examines a remarkable double transformation: in reinventing himself Dickens reinvented the form of the novel. It was a high-stakes gamble, and Dickens never forgot how differently things could have turned out. Like the hero of Dombey and Son, he remained haunted by "what might have been, and what was not." In his own lifetime, Dickens was without rivals. He styled himself simply "The Inimitable." But he was not always confident about his standing in the world. From his traumatized childhood to the suicide of his first collaborator and the sudden death of the woman who had a good claim to being the love of his life, Dickens faced powerful obstacles. Before settling on the profession of novelist, he tried his hand at the law and journalism, considered a career in acting, and even contemplated emigrating to the West Indies. Yet with The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, and a groundbreaking series of plays, sketches, and articles, he succeeded in turning every potential breakdown into a breakthrough. Douglas-Fairhurst's provocative new biography, focused on the 1830s, portrays a restless and uncertain Dickens who could not decide on the career path he should take and would never feel secure in his considerable achievements.

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Descripción Belknap Press, 2013. Estado de conservación: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Rightly rejecting familiar accounts of Dickens's life, Douglas-Fairhurst's biography shows us the forlorn and driven young Dickens, restless and uncertain, who could not yet choose what was to become his inevitable mode of composing fiction. I recommend it highly. Nº de ref. de la librería ABE_book_new_0674072235

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Descripción HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2013. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. 234 x 154 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Becoming Dickens tells the story of how an ambitious young Londoner became England s greatest novelist. In following the twists and turns of Charles Dickens s early career, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst examines a remarkable double transformation: in reinventing himself Dickens reinvented the form of the novel. It was a high-stakes gamble, and Dickens never forgot how differently things could have turned out. Like the hero of Dombey and Son, he remained haunted by what might have been, and what was not. In his own lifetime, Dickens was without rivals. He styled himself simply The Inimitable. But he was not always confident about his standing in the world. From his traumatized childhood to the suicide of his first collaborator and the sudden death of the woman who had a good claim to being the love of his life, Dickens faced powerful obstacles. Before settling on the profession of novelist, he tried his hand at the law and journalism, considered a career in acting, and even contemplated emigrating to the West Indies. Yet with The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, and a groundbreaking series of plays, sketches, and articles, he succeeded in turning every potential breakdown into a breakthrough. Douglas-Fairhurst s provocative new biography, focused on the 1830s, portrays a restless and uncertain Dickens who could not decide on the career path he should take and would never feel secure in his considerable achievements. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780674072237

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Descripción HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2013. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. 234 x 154 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Becoming Dickens tells the story of how an ambitious young Londoner became England s greatest novelist. In following the twists and turns of Charles Dickens s early career, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst examines a remarkable double transformation: in reinventing himself Dickens reinvented the form of the novel. It was a high-stakes gamble, and Dickens never forgot how differently things could have turned out. Like the hero of Dombey and Son, he remained haunted by what might have been, and what was not. In his own lifetime, Dickens was without rivals. He styled himself simply The Inimitable. But he was not always confident about his standing in the world. From his traumatized childhood to the suicide of his first collaborator and the sudden death of the woman who had a good claim to being the love of his life, Dickens faced powerful obstacles. Before settling on the profession of novelist, he tried his hand at the law and journalism, considered a career in acting, and even contemplated emigrating to the West Indies. Yet with The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, and a groundbreaking series of plays, sketches, and articles, he succeeded in turning every potential breakdown into a breakthrough. Douglas-Fairhurst s provocative new biography, focused on the 1830s, portrays a restless and uncertain Dickens who could not decide on the career path he should take and would never feel secure in his considerable achievements. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780674072237

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