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Charles Dickens was a superb public performer, a great orator and one of the most famous of the Eminent Victorians. Slight of build, with a frenzied, hyper-energetic personality, Dickens looked much older than his fifty-eight years when he died - an occasion marked by a crowded funeral at Westminster Abbey, despite his waking wishes for a small affair. Experiencing the worst and best of life during the Victorian Age, Dickens was not merely the conduit through whom some of the most beloved characters in literature came into the world. He was one of them. Filled with the twists, pathos and unusual characters that sprang from this novelist's extraordinary imagination, The Mystery of Charles Dickens looks back from the legendary writer's death to recall the key events in his life. In doing so, A. N. Wilson seeks to understand Dickens' creative genius and enduring popularity. Following his life from cradle to grave, it becomes clear that Dickens's fiction drew from his own experiences - a fact he acknowledged. Like Oliver Twist, Dickens suffered a wretched childhood, then grew up to become not only a respectable gentleman but an artist of prodigious popularity. Dickens knew firsthand the poverty and pain his characters endured, including the scandal of a failed marriage. Going beyond standard narrative biography, Wilson brilliantly revisits the wellspring of Dickens's vast and wild imagination, to reveal at long last why his novels captured the hearts of nineteenth-century readers - and why they continue to resonate today.

 

Details

ISBN: 9781786497918
Audience: General
Format: Hardback
Number of Pages: 368
Edition: Main
Publication Date: 4 Jun 2020
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 24.5(H) x 16.5(L) x 3.4(W)
Weight (gm): 710

 

Reviews

Delightful, riveting... In this superb book, [Wilson] has succeeded in prising open the layers and revealing the inner child inside Charles Dickens. * Daily Mail, 'Book of the Week' *
Fascinating... The greatest compliment one could pay this book is to say that it doesn't only read like something written about Dickens; animated by a restless, rummaging critical intelligence, and a curiosity about many of the things others simply take for granted, at times it reads more like something written by Dickens. * Spectator *
This is the stylish and outspoken A N Wilson at his provocative best. * 'Books of the Year', Daily Mail *
A brilliant denunciation of the sickness of Victorian England.[Wilson] is especially vivid on the moral horror of a self-confident, capitalist society without a safety net for those at the bottom. * The Times, 'Book of the Week' *
Hugely enjoyable... A wonderfully fresh and vivid account, fluently integrating life and work, teasingly constructed without being relentlessly chronological, and personally charged by an impassioned gratitude to Dickens... Wilson's unquenchable gusto, sharp critical intelligence and buoyant prose make compelling reading - a vindication not so much of the mystery of Charles Dickens as the miracle. * Daily Telegraph *
Wilson's attempt to pin down the Dickens we don't know is energetic. He leads the reader, like one of the ghosts in A Christmas Carol, to visit moments in the writer's life... Compelling * Financial Times *
A sprightly retelling of a well-known narrative... vivid, detailed. * Guardian, 'Book of the Week' *
Enthralling... In each section, themes and ideas spool out with Wilson's characteristic fluency and narrative flair. He both loves and is appalled by Dickens * Literary Review *
Utterly satisfying... A marvelous exploration by an author steeped in the craft of his subject's elastic, elusive work. * Kirkus Reviews (starred review) *
Beyond the eye-opening analysis, Wilson also offers a moving personal account of why Dickens has meant so much to him * Booklist (starred review) *
Charles Dickens had succeeded in lodging all his phobias and foibles within his characters without leaving many traces of his personal life in Tolstoy-like autobiographical confessions. But A. N. Wilson, who three decades ago wrote one of the best biographies of Tolstoy, shows in The Mystery of Charles Dickens that similar demons haunted the nightmarish duality of Dickens's personality as well. * Zinovy Zinik, 'Books of the Year', TLS *

 

Author Biography

A. N. Wilson grew up in Staffordshire and was educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is a prolific and award-winning biographer and celebrated novelist. He lives in North London.
The Mystery of Charles Dickens
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