Cover image for Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Pykett, Lyn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave, 2002.
Physical Description:
ix, 207 pages ; 23 cm.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR4588 .P95 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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To many of his contemporaries, Charles Dickens was the greatest writer of his age; a one-man fiction industry who produced fourteen massive novels, and numerous sketches, essays and stories, many of which appeared in the two magazines which he founded and edited. Today the work of one of the first and most successful mass-circulation authors continues to enthrall readers around the world.

This wide-ranging book examines the writings of Dickens, not only in his time but also in ours. it looks at the author as a Victorian 'man of letters', and explores his cultural and critical impact both on the definition of the novel in the nineteenth century and the subsequent development of the form in the twentieth. Lyn Pykett focuses on Dickens as journalist, literary entrepreneur, the conductor of magazines, the shaper of the serial novel, the manipulator of the multiple plot, and the creator of eccentric characters. She also assesses the modernity of the writer's alienated protagonists and their social environments, as well as reassessing his representations of the vivid, bleak and at times menacing spectacle of the metropolis, from the late modern/postmodern perspective of the twenty first century.

Each chapter of this text analyses the work of a particular decade in Dickens's career, providing a lively contextual study which places his writings in relation to the worlds that made him, and the literary worlds which he made. It is essential reading for all those with an interest in one of the most popular, and enduring, British novelists of all time.

Author Notes

Lyn Pykett is Professor of English and Head of Department at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This most recent volume in the "Critical Issues" series opens with a chapter summarizing the critical opinions of Dickens's writings from his contemporaneous critics to the present, and it is as clear and succinct an overview as one will find anywhere. The remaining chapters focus on specific periods in the novelist's career: "The Making of the Novelist and the Shaping of the Novel, 1835-41," "Travails in Hyper-Reality, 1842-8," "Mid-Victorian Self-Fashionings, 1846-50," "The Novelist as Journalist in Hard Times, 1850-7," and "These Times of Ours, 1858-70." In these chapters Pykett (Univ. of Wales) presents contextual studies, attempting to show how the times partly shaped Dickens's work and how he changed the world. This carefully documented book is packed with exceptional insights into the writings of Dickens. It is a valuable addition to Dickens studies for academic readers at all levels. J. D. Vann University of North Texas

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vii
A Note on Editionsp. viii
1 Introduction: the Dickens Phenomenon and the Dickens Industryp. 1
I Everybody's writerp. 1
II Dickens in the nineteenth century: some contemporary critical issuesp. 6
III Dickens in relation to criticism in the twentieth centuryp. 11
2 The Making of the Novelist and the Shaping of the Novel, 1835-41p. 23
I Street-walking with the painter of modern life: Sketches by Bozp. 24
II The periodical essay as novel: The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Clubp. 37
III 'Connected works of fiction of a higher grade': Oliver Twist and scenes of sufferingp. 42
IV 'Detachable sketches and artificial bits': Nicholas Nicklebyp. 50
V A retrospective turn: Master Humphrey's Clockp. 57
VI Walks on the wild side: The Old Curiosity Shopp. 59
VII History through the keyhole: Barnaby Rudgep. 68
3 Travails in Hyper-Reality, 1842-8p. 78
I 'Here be monsters': Martin Chuzzlewitp. 78
II Redemptive fictions in 'a whimsical kind of masque': the Christmas Books, 1843-8p. 89
4 Mid-Victorian Self-Fashionings, 1846-50p. 98
I Making the family firm? Dombey and Sonp. 98
II The gendered subject of writing: David Copperfieldp. 109
5 The Novelist as Journalist in Hard Times, 1850-7p. 122
I 'The spirit of the people and the time': Household Wordsp. 122
II Anatomizing Britain: Bleak Housep. 129
III Setting the muddle to rights? Hard Timesp. 139
IV 'The inquest into contemporary civilization': Little Dorritp. 146
6 These Times of Ours, 1858-70p. 156
I Trading places: All the Year Roundp. 156
II Making history: A Tale of Two Citiesp. 160
III Lost illusions: Great Expectationsp. 165
IV The ways we live now: Our Mutual Friendp. 172
V The sense of unending: The Mystery of Edwin Droodp. 180
Notesp. 189
Indexp. 202