A Companion to Charles Dickens / Edition 1

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A Companion to Charles Dickens concentrates on the historical, ideological, and social forces that defined Dickens’s world.

  • Puts Dickens’s work into its literary, historical, and social contexts
  • Traces the development of Dickens’s career as a journalist and novelist
  • Includes original essays by leading Dickensian scholars on each of Dickens’s fifteen novels
  • Explores a broad range of topics, including criticisms of his novels, the use of history and law in his fiction, language, and the effect of political and social reform
  • Examines Dickens's legacy and surveys the mass of secondary materials that has been generated in response and reverence to his writing
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Pykett’s chapter is preceded by a rewarding chapter on the literary culture of the day by Michael Hollington and followed by the final essay on ‘Postcolonial Dickens’. As if to insist that any competition in the Dickens Companion industry is essentially good-natured, John O. Jordan has contributed this, rather wonderful, last word to close the book.”  (Oxford Journal Clippings, 1 November 2012)

"Several of these pieces should be indispensable reading for undergraduates... Each of the three Companions to Charles Dickens now available is a valuable resource for students, but Paroissien's is certainly the richest, and— with simultaneous electronic publication- likely to be of most immediate and beneficial assistance to students." (Notes and Queries, March 2010) "It is difficult to overstate the importance of A Companion to Charles Dickens. The whole provides a rich seam of knowledge, placing Charles Dickens' writings in their literary and historical contexts, a serious work of scholarship. A copy should be placed in every library, whether public, college or academic. Not only is it an invaluable and multifaceted resource for students, teachers and scholars of Dickens, it is a cornucopia of delight for everyone who loves to read Dickens for pleasure alone." (Reference Reviews, Issue 8 2008)

“This is an excellent book, to read with intellectual profit, stimulation, and pleasure. Distinctive in its own right in permitting long essays on a wide range of Dickensian topics. Volumes with a particular outwards-facing intention and stylistic accessibility such as this one, with their imagined audiences that include undergraduates and general readers as well as scholars, show it with clarity. A welcome and valuable book, an engaging collection to read, and a volume worthy of its subject.” (Dickens Quarterly, September 2008)

“Students of Dickens will find this handbook useful. In particular, the entries on the individual novels take the reader to the most important issues. Recommended.” (Choice, November 2008)

“A handy … reference book for a graduate course on Dickens or more advanced studies, this Companion is indeed companionable. Organized both logically and comprehensively, the book is divided into five categories. In short, this Companion inspires one to go back and read all of Dickens’s novels again.” (English Literature in Transition)

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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Paroissien is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham. He edits Dickens Quarterly and co-edits, with Susan Shatto, the Dickens Companions series. He is the author of The Companion to Oliver Twist (1992), The Companion to Great Expectations (2000), and has edited The Mystery of Edwin Drood for Penguin (2002).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii

Notes on Contributors ix

Preface xiv

Acknowledgments xvi

Abbreviations xvii

Part I Perspectives on the Life 1

1 A Sketch of the Life 3
Michael Allen

2 Dickens's Use of the Autobiographical Fragment 18
Nicola Bradbury

3 "Faithfully Yours, Charles Dickens": The Epistolary Art of the Inimitable 33
David Paroissien

4 Three Major Biographies 47
Catherine Peters

Part II Literary/Cultural Contexts 63

5 The Eighteenth-century Legacy 65
Monika Fludernik

6 Dickens and the Gothic 81
Robert Mighall

7 Illustrations 97
Malcolm Andrews

8 The Language of Dickens 126
Patricia Ingham

9 The Novels and Popular Culture 142
Juliet John

Part III English History Contexts 157

10 Dickens as a Reformer 159
Hugh Cunningham

11 Dickens's Evolution as a Journalist 174
John M. L. Drew

12 Dickens and Gender 186
Natalie McKnight

13 Dickens and Technology 199
Trey Philpotts

14 Dickens and America (1842) 216
Nancy Aycock Metz

15 Dickens and Government Ineptitude Abroad, 1854–1865 228
Leslie Mitchell

16 Dickens and the Uses of History 240
John Gardiner

17 Dickens and Christianity 255
Valentine Cunningham

18 Dickens and the Law 277
Jan-Melissa Schramm

Part IV The Fiction 295

19 The Pickwick Papers 297
David Parker

20 Oliver Twist 308
Brian Cheadle

21 Nicholas Nickleby 318
Stanley Friedman

22 The Old Curiosity Shop 328
Gill Ballinger

23 Barnaby Rudge 338
Jon Mee

24 Martin Chuzzlewit 348
Goldie Morgentaler

25 Dombey and Son 358
Brigid Lowe

26 David Copperfield 369
Gareth Cordery

27 Bleak House 380
Robert Tracy

28 Hard Times 390
Anne Humpherys

29 Little Dorrit 401
Philip Davis

30 A Tale of Two Cities 412
Paul Davis

31 Great Expectations 422
Andrew Sanders

32 Our Mutual Friend 433
Leon Litvack

33 The Mystery of Edwin Drood 444
Simon J. James

Part V Reputation and Influence 453

34 Dickens and the Literary Culture of the Period 455
Michael Hollington

35 Dickens and Criticism 470
Lyn Pykett

36 Postcolonial Dickens 486
John O. Jordan

Index 501

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