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Dickens: A Biography

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  55 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
Drawing partly on unpublished and new materials, this masterfully crafted biography presents Charles Dickens and his novels in social and psychological shadings that will speak to a new generation interested in the greatest and most popular English novelist. Includes over 100 photos.
Hardcover, First Edition, 607 pages
Published 1988 by William Morrow & Company
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Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dickens
Since I've been reading (and rereading) a lot of Dickens the past few months, I decided to find out a little more about the man, hence this biography.

I wasn't crazy about the style of this biography. Kaplan seems determined to use every notecard he generated in his research, and I learned (and have now forgotten) more about many of Dickens' friends and contemporaries than I wanted to know. In addition, he uses quotations by the thousand without any indication in the text of whom he is quoting. (
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vivid, mostly satisfying portrait of Dicken's personal, literary, social and public lives. Before his death, Dickens destroyed the bulk of letters written and rec'd, thus obliterating primary source material, particularly with respect to his sustained relationship with mistress Ellen Ternan. Fairly certain more recent biographies would satisfy questions raised by the reading of Kaplan's work.
Feb 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is so wonderfully insightful and a look into Dickens' life, however... Fred Kaplin... do you... by any chance... do you want to be Charles Dickens? It's okay, you can admit it out loud.
Brooke Haynes Gallucci
I'm undertaking the works of Dickens in order, some will be re-reads but some will be new...and I'm so looking forward to understand who Dickens was and where his characters came from.
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“It is a successful inward voyage of reconciliation of a sort that he was to make much more readily and regularly in his fiction than in his life. His own experience had made the child figure central to his imagination, the sensitive youth whose sense of his worth is assaulted by a hostile world from infancy onward. The assault precedes adolescence, and adolescent experience is a late stage of the reenactment of early-childhood loss. The most powerful expression in his fiction of such loss and deprivation is to be born an orphan or near orphan, as are Oliver, Pip, Little Nell, David Copperfield, and Esther Summerson, or to have lost one parent, like Nicholas Nickleby, Florence Dombey, and Amy Dorrit. In the first of his fictional child heroes, he contrasts the emotional impact of his own mother’s distance and rejection with the absence of Oliver’s, as if to say that a dead mother is preferable to a deadening one. Unlike his own, Oliver’s mother dies while giving birth to her son. It is a tragic sacrifice that Dickens provides as an expression of the unqualified love of the perfect mother for her only son. Like Mary, she dies “Young Beautiful And Good,” and her angelic presence at crucial moments in the novel provides Oliver with both an assurance of his self-worth and, since it is she he resembles, a visible connection with the world of love, benevolence, and innate moral values.15” 0 likes
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