Charles Dickens

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With the delectable wit, unforgettable characters, and challenging themes that have won her a Pulitzer Prize and national bestseller status, Jane Smiley naturally finds a kindred spirit in the author of classics such as Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. As "his novels shaped his life as much as his life shaped his novels," Smiley's Charles Dickens is at once a sensitive profile of the great master and a fascinating meditation on the writing life.

Smiley evokes Dickens as he might have seemed to his contemporaries: convivial, astute, boundlessly energetic-and lionized. As she makes clear, Dickens not only led the action-packed life of a prolific writer, editor, and family man but, balancing the artistic and the commercial in his work, he also consciously sustained his status as one of the first modern "celebrities."

Charles Dickens offers brilliant interpretations of almost all the major works, an exploration of his narrative techniques and his innovative voice and themes, and a reflection on how his richly varied lower-class cameos sprang from an experience and passion more personal than his public knew. Smiley's own "demon narrative intelligence" (The Boston Globe) touches, too, on controversial details that include Dickens's obsession with money and squabbles with publishers, his unhappy marriage, and the rumors of an affair.

Here is a fresh look at the dazzling personality of a verbal magician and the fascinating times behind the classics we read in school and continue to enjoy today.

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User Review  - Kirkus

Pulitzer-winning novelist Smiley (Horse Heaven, 2000, etc.) brings her fluid prose to a fresh and insightful look, through a psychological lens, at the life of Dickens.True to the always-interesting ... Read full review

Charles Dickens

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Smiley, whose novels include the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres, presents her new book as an attempt to see Dickens as his contemporaries would have, through his literary works. She does not ... Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1832. The family later settled in Concord, Massachusetts, where Alcott was influenced by their neighbors Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. At a young age, Louisa took on some of the family's financial burdens and worked as a domestic, a teacher, and a writer. In 1868 and 1869, fame and fortune came with the publication of Little Women. The author of numerous novels and an active campaigner for temperance and women's suffrage, Alcott died in 1888.   Regina Barecca, Professor of English and Feminist Theory at the University of Connecticut, is the editor of the influ­ential journal LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory. Among her many books are They Used to Call Me Snow White . . . But I Drifted, a widely acclaimed study of wom­en's humor, and Babes in Boyland, It's Not That I'm Bit­ter . . . , and Untamed and Unabashed: Essays on Women and Humor in British Literature. She is also the editor of The Penguin Book of Women's Humor.   Susan Straight is an award-winning fiction writer whose novel Highwire Moon, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her other novels include Aquaboogie, I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked out All the Pots, and Blacker than a Thousand Midnights. She was born in Riverside, California, and lives there with her three daughters.

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