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Charles Dickens (Penguin Lives) [Hardcover]

By Jane Smiley (Author)
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Item description for Charles Dickens (Penguin Lives) by Jane Smiley...

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres offers an intriguing portrait of the nineteenth-century English author, offering a sensitive profile of Dickens's life, incisive interpretations of his major works, and a study of his narrative techniques, themes, characters, and style. 25,000 first printing.

Publishers Description
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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Item Specifications...

Studio: Viking Adult
Pages   212
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.87" Width: 5.42" Height: 0.82"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 13, 2002
Publisher   Viking Adult
Series  Penguin Lives  
ISBN  0670030775  
ISBN13  9780670030774  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jane Smiley

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jane Smiley is the author of eight previous works of fiction, including The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love & Good Will, A Thousand Acres (which won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize), and Moo. She lives in northern California.

From the Hardcover edition.

Jane Smiley currently resides in the state of California.

Jane Smiley has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Horses of Oak Valley Ranch
  2. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  3. Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions
  4. Penguin Threads
  5. Signet Classics
  6. World of the Sagas

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Authors
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( D ) > Dickens, Charles > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( S ) > Smiley, Jane
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British

Reviews - What do customers think about Charles Dickens (Penguin Lives)?

Terrific Overview  Jun 2, 2003
This lively book provides an overview of the literary achievements and personal life of Charles Dickens. For those this customers who, like me, don't know how to approach this writer's vast achievements, I provide this advice from Smiley, who is an intelligent, charming, and enthusiastic biographer: "But a newcomer to Dickens can do no better than to begin with a novel-my suggestions are David Copperfield, to be followed by Great Expectations, Dombey and Son, A Tale of Two Cities, and Our Mutual Friend, in that order, light, dark, light, dark, light, a wonderful chiaroscuro of Dickens's most characteristic and accessible work." Bravo for Jane and her fun and concise treatment of an enormous subject!
A succinct yet superb short biography of Charles Dickens  Apr 22, 2003
Jane Smiley is a leading contemporary novelist whose insight into the difficult arcane world of writing for profit is helpful in reviewing our greatest English novelist. As self-described Charles Dickens was the "inimitable." Dickens draws a broad stoke as his thousands of characters lie, cheat,[borrow], love, live and [end life] on the canvas of humanity.
As one who has read all the standard biographies of the 19th behemoth of literature that was Dickens I can highly recommend this excellent book.
Smiley provides a sketch of Dickens life including warts and all. Her dissection of the affair the middle aged author engaged in with actress Ellen Ternan was well done in looking at what may have motivated Dickens to break with his wife Catherine and thumb his nose at Victorian respectability.
Dickens is a mixture of good and bad with the humanity and essential goodness of the man on display.
This little book in the excellent Penguin Viking Biography series could be well used in an introductory course on Dickens, the nineteenth century English novel or on the art of literary biography.
Smiley made me smile and laugh as I explored the mind of a genius with this gifted biographer. It is the best biography I have so far read in this series.
Possibly the best of the Penguin Lives  Feb 10, 2003
I've read about half the books in the Penguin series and I'd rate this at the top (other favorites are the bios of Leonardo da Vinci and James Joyce). It's only 207 pages long but there is no sense that anything important was left out. I hadn't realized that Dickens was such an astounding character--Ms. Smiley brings him to life with precise detail, through knowledge, and insights that DESERVE to be called insights. She's obviously an excellent writer herself and every page radiates her professionalism.
A good brief account of Dickens  Jan 9, 2003
For those who want to spend two weeks leaning about Dickens, Peter Ackroyd's book is really excellent. However if you do not have that kind of time, this work by Jane Smiley is excellent. Whoever marries the authors to the subjects should be commended. Jane Smiley is a best-selling author. Who better to write on the foremost novelist during the high noon of the novel as a medium?

This book provided an excellent overview not only of the life of Dickens, which can be summed up as "poor boy makes good," but also the novels themselves. I do not agree with some of Jane Smiley's criticism ("Pickwick Papers" is a good read, despite what she says), but by and large she is on target with a great deal of what she has to say.

A fresh look at the man and his achievements  Sep 7, 2002
Smiley's lively biographical coverage of Charles Dickens paints a portrait of a convivial, astute and energetic writer who led an action-packed life as a prolific writer and family man. Blending with this highly recommended portrait of the man is a survey of his major works and narrative style, providing a fresh look at the man and his achievements.

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