The Resource Becoming Dickens : the invention of a novelist, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Becoming Dickens : the invention of a novelist, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Label
Becoming Dickens : the invention of a novelist
Title
Becoming Dickens
Title remainder
the invention of a novelist
Statement of responsibility
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
Title variation
Invention of a novelist
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Writing style
Award
Library Journal Best Books, 2011.
Review
  • For the 2012 bicentennial of Dickens's birth, Oxford scholar Douglas-Fairhurst examines the man and his times up to 1838: the beginning of the Victorian age, which Charles John Huffam Dickens embodies in the popular imagination. In many ways a self-fabrication and his own greatest work of fiction, Dickens rose from child labor at a blacking factory to the first rank of English authors. With such beginnings, and perhaps because of them, Dickens (whose obsession with a neat and clean appearance, says the author, might today be thought of as exhibiting a form of OCD) had from childhood a love affair with theater and the theatrical, with fashion, with all the outward trappings that might reveal or conceal the soul of motivation. As a young clerk and journalist, he discerned the savage modern trait of alienation. Through it all, not yet 27 by the conclusion of this book, Dickens was a climber and, as an aspiring novelist, had married the daughter of the former adviser to Sir Walter Scott. Dickens invented many selves, says Douglas-Fairhurst, something of a Victorian trait as the multivalent form of the novel developed along with him. Though subdued and overlong, this book captures the chameleon Dickens as a product of his era before he became its creator. 28 photos. (Oct.) --Staff (Reviewed June 6, 2011) (Publishers Weekly, vol 258, issue 23, p)
  • This biography, culminating in 1838, when Dickens turned 26, presents persuasive evidence that had it not been for Dickens's willful ambition, his path to authorial renown might have been diverted by the circumstances of his childhood and adolescence. From a close reading of Dickens's early poetry, autobiography, and letters, Douglas-Fairhurst (English, Magdalen Coll., Oxford) portrays Dickens as a highly observant young man, fastidious in dress, disposed to schoolboy practical jokes and theatrical behavior, who suffered the humiliation of chronic domestic poverty and the trauma, at age 12, of laboring long hours in a shoe-polish ("blackening") bottling factory. Dickens's time as a solicitors' clerk and shorthand court clerk were intellectually mind-numbing, but his newspaper reporting on Parliament won him attention. 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. VERDICT A perceptive and speculative biography whose style is best suited to an academic readership and whole-hearted Dickensians.— Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal --Lonnie Weatherby (Reviewed August 1, 2011) (Library Journal, vol 136, issue 13, p95)
  • A literary biography of Charles Dickens focused on his life and work during the 1830s. Douglas-Fairhurst (English/Magdalen Coll., Oxford; Victorian Afterlives: The Shaping of Influence in Nineteenth-Century Literature, 2002) writes that reviewers of the great author's early work in the Monthly Magazine found his stories to be "a choice bit of humour, somewhat exaggerated" and "clever," which was a backhanded compliment from the British press. These comments apply to Becoming Dickens as well. Douglas-Fairhurst frequently makes clever connections of dubious significance to his overall argument. In his otherwise useful examination of "A Dinner at Poplar Walk," Dickens' first published story, he pauses on the line "an appalling creaking of boots," which he admits "has nothing to do with the main thrust of the story." But he insists the word "boots" is important: "The notion that somebody's personality resides in his boots is closely connected to Dickens's interest in theater, where an actor trying to establish a character might decide to work from the bottom up but not get much further than choosing the right kind of footwear." This kind of close reading permeates the book, often slowing the narrative momentum, but the author's central argument, about the ways in which events in Dickens' life shaped his fiction, is a worthy one. While writing later in life about a near-brush with acting, Dickens remarked, "See how near I may have been to another sort of life." Douglas-Fairhurst shows demonstrates how the idea that a person could have just as easily ended up a clerk or a thief as a writer preoccupied Dickens and found its way into his fiction. The biographical concerns connect strongly and effectively to the literary material. An insightful argument occasionally marred by somewhat tangential and glib analysis.(Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2011)
Biography type
individual biography
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10015913
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Douglas-Fairhurst, Robert
Dewey number
  • 823/.8
  • B
Illustrations
  • illustrations
  • portraits
  • plates
  • facsimiles
Index
index present
LC call number
PR4582
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Dickens, Charles
  • Novelists, English
Target audience
adult
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
the invention of a novelist
Label
Becoming Dickens : the invention of a novelist, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 339-370) and index
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
389 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates
Isbn
9780674050037
Lccn
2011004219
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustrations, portraits, facsimiles, photographs
Label
Becoming Dickens : the invention of a novelist, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
Publication
Copyright
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 339-370) and index
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
389 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates
Isbn
9780674050037
Lccn
2011004219
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustrations, portraits, facsimiles, photographs

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