Download Charles Dickens (Penguin Lives) by Jane Smiley PDF

By Jane Smiley

With the delectable wit, unforgettable characters, and demanding topics that experience gained her a Pulitzer Prize and nationwide bestseller prestige, Jane Smiley evidently reveals a kindred spirit within the writer of classics corresponding to nice expectancies and A Christmas Carol. As "his novels formed his existence up to his lifestyles formed his novels," Smiley's Charles Dickens is right now a delicate profile of the good grasp and a desirable meditation at the writing lifestyles. Smiley inspires Dickens as he may have looked as if it would his contemporaries: convivial, astute, boundlessly energetic-and lionized. As she makes transparent, Dickens not just led the action-packed lifetime of a prolific author, editor, and family members guy yet, balancing the inventive and the economic in his paintings, he additionally consciously sustained his prestige as one of many first sleek "celebrities." Charles Dickens bargains superb interpretations of virtually the entire significant works, an exploration of his narrative ideas and his leading edge voice and subject matters, and a mirrored image on how his richly various lower-class cameos sprang from an event and fervour extra own than his public knew. Jane Smiley's personal "demon narrative intelligence" (The Boston Globe) touches, too, on debatable information that come with Dickens's obsession with cash and squabbles with publishers, his unsatisfied marriage, and the rumors of an affair. here's a clean examine the staggering character of a verbal magician and the attention-grabbing occasions in the back of the classics we learn in class and proceed to get pleasure from this day.

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In our day, for example, the disinterested “patronage” of the university and the National Endowment for the Arts is attacked by conservatives who always assert that the marketplace is the best test of artistic value. It seems clear, though, from the history of novel writing since Dickens’s time, that the production of enduring literary art has little or no relationship to market success, except insofar as a publisher can fund the publication of more complex and difficult works with the profits of a steady stream of popular 51   stories.

We can recognize it as a nightmare book tour, the author and his wife unprotected by publicists or any sort of previous experience. All the features of modern American celebrity leap forth, full grown—the public’s sense that they have the right to gaze upon the Dickenses at will, the gossip in the press about their every characteristic, the sense the Dickenses have of being objectified and hounded and intruded upon, the resentment of the public at any sort of be- 39   havior on the part of the author other than gratitude and good cheer, and, above all, the assumption that all fame, all the time, must be a good thing.

He was hardly able even to name what we can readily see was a failure of the entire system, reflecting a wholesale shift in the social structure of England from rural to urban, from traditional to capitalistic, from patriarchal to democratic. But one thing to be said for Charles Dickens was that he remained undaunted. The energy he expended for Miss Coutts, the example he set in his public speeches, and the ambition of his novels steadily expanded. Nevertheless, his ambitions were not immediately rewarded.

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