Friendly Dickens: Being a Good-Natured Guide to the Art and Adventures of the Man Who Invented Scrooge


The Friendly Dickens helps you turn the pages of a masterpiece like David Copperfield or an "obscure" novel like Nicholas Nickleby as eagerly as you switch channels. Norrie Epstein - whose The Friendly Shakespeare was called "spirited, informative and provocative" by The New York Times - strips away the polite veneer of Victorian society to reveal Dickens's life and times in all their squalor and glory, from his childhood days toiling in a blacking factory while his father languished in debtor's prison, to his ...
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The Friendly Dickens helps you turn the pages of a masterpiece like David Copperfield or an "obscure" novel like Nicholas Nickleby as eagerly as you switch channels. Norrie Epstein - whose The Friendly Shakespeare was called "spirited, informative and provocative" by The New York Times - strips away the polite veneer of Victorian society to reveal Dickens's life and times in all their squalor and glory, from his childhood days toiling in a blacking factory while his father languished in debtor's prison, to his first visit to the United States, where he was hailed as the greatest living writer. The Friendly Dickens includes an illuminating guide to all of Dickens's works and lively appreciations of characters both major and minor, interviews with aficionados from Patrick Stewart to biographer Phyllis Rose, eye-catching illustrations, copious quotations, a highly opinionated filmography and informative sidebars on almost every page.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The subtitle of this guide to Charles Dickens explains what Epstein (The Friendly Shakespeare, LJ 12/92) sets out to accomplish. Part of the publisher's "Friendly" series of popular guides, this is not a full-scale biographical or scholarly study of the author's life and works; for that, one should consult works by Edgar Johnson, Fred Kaplan, and others. Instead, Epstein wants to whet the average reader's interest in Dickens by reviewing all aspects of his life and by summarizing each of his published novels. Epstein successfully uses illustrations, sidebars, lists, and interviews with actors, critics, and various Dickensians to make her observations and critical readings entertaining to the nonscholarly reader. Recommended primarily for public libraries. (Bibliography and index not seen.) [For more on Dickens, see Paul Davis's Charles Dickens A--Z, reviewed on p. 70.--Ed.]--Morris Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., Brooklyn
Another in the "friendly" series popularizing and demystifying classic authors, this volume offers tips on reading Dickens, describes his life, and offers observations and lore connected with the many fascinating characters he created. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
In the sort of labor of love Dickens inspires, Epstein, author of The Friendly Shakespeare (not reviewed) and sometime university lecturer, has written her well-informed and engaging pop reference for those sick of the annual maladaptations of A Christmas Carol and students who have encountered them only as "textbooks, not novels.þ Dickens biographers and scholars have been hard at work since Edmund Wilson to dismantle Dickens's respectable Victorian facade, usually with Freudian tools, but The Friendly Dickens balances demystification with erudition as it encapsulates his prodigious work and literally Dickensian life. Peppered throughout are intriguing and odd bits of information, culled from a wide variety of sources, so that the casual browser will learn Dickens's robust walking speed (4.8 m.p.h.), the total number of characters he created (13,143) and all those he killed off before the age of 25 (over a dozen), and the amount of dung deposited on London streets (40,000 tons per annum). Some of the liveliest and most opinionated sections are the interviews with fellow Dickens aficionados, including actors Roger Rees on the role of Nicholas Nickleby, Miriam Margolyes on Dickens's women in her solo revue, and Patrick Stewart on his one-man Christmas Carol, and critics David Lodge on academic snobbery toward Boz and adapting Martin Chuzzlewit, Phyllis Rose on his marriage and mistress, and Jonathan Yardley on the cultural shifts in popular entertainment from books to movies. Ironically, the best reference section is an extensive filmography of every major screen and television adaptation, enlivened by Epstein's assessments of W.C. Fields as Mr. Micawber, the discordantly cheerfulOliver!, and Michael Caine opposite Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Christmas Carol. Dickensian in every sense of the word, especially Victorian eccentricity and Pickwickian good humor. (illustrations, not seen.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641576775
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/1/2001
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.74 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Table of Contents

On Dickens 1
How to Read Dickens 5
The First Time: Memories of Dickens 7
Early Life
John and Elizabeth Dickens 13
Childhood and Other Sorrows 16
Annus Horribilis 22
Journalism: Biding Time 29
Dickens in Love 35
Sketches by Boz 39
Charles and Catherine 43
Novels by the Numbers 48
The Pickwick Papers 55
"I Thought of Mr. Pickwick" 65
The Pickwickian Revolution 66
Pickwickiana 69
Food, Glorious Food (and Drink) 72
The Creation of Charles Dickens 76
Oliver Twist 78
Twistiana 88
Fagin: The Monster Who Haunts Our Dreams 90
The Jewish Question 93
The Death of Mary Hogarth 96
Nicholas Nickleby 100
Adapting Nickleby 106
Playing Nicholas 110
The Prodigal Father 114
The Dickensian Freak Show 117
The Old Curiosity Shop 120
Who Would Not Weep for Little Nell? 125
The Erotic Child 129
How Many Children Did Dickens Kill? 133
Barnaby Rudge 136
Public Executions 141
American Notes 144
International Copyright 149
Martin Chuzzlewit 152
Chuzzlewit Lore 157
Chuzzlewit's Yankee-Doodledom 158
The World According to Gamp 159
Seth Pecksniff, Hypocrite Extraordinaire 163
Todgers's 164
Masterpiece Theatre 167
The Illustrated Dickens 171
A Christmas Carol 174
History of a Story 184
Dickens's Own Christmas 185
Caroliana 187
Reading Carol 193
Middle Years
"Those Carefree, Memless Days" 199
Dombey and Son 202
Fathers and Daughters 205
The Great Reformer 207
Fallen Women Raised Up 210
The Proper and the Improper 213
David Copperfield 217
A Question of Character 234
Dickensian Names 237
Bleak House 240
Dickens's London 257
Power Walking 262
Midlife Yearnings 265
Hard Times 268
Maria Redux 272
Little Dorrit 275
Shades of the Prison House 283
Taffycoram 284
Dickens's Women 288
The Inimitable Dickensian 293
Final Years
The Frozen Heart 297
The Marriage Ends 299
It Comes Out 304
Trophy Wives 308
A Double Life 313
Bonfire of the Vanities ä
The Readings 317
A Tale of Two Cities 321
Great Expectations 326
On Great Expectations 339
Miss Havisham's Fire 341
America Redux 345
Our Mutual Friend 349
Daddy Dearest 355
The Mystery of Edwin Drood 358
Droodiana 363
Droodians Afoot! 364
A Modern Critic Reviews Dickens 366
Death Comes to "The Inimitable" 370
Life after Dickens 375
The Master 378
A Select Filmography 383
Bibliography 407
Index 411
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