Dickens: A Biography

Fred Kaplan, Author William Morrow & Company $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-04341-4
This first major biography of Dickens in nearly 40 years is a winning mix of insight, narrative skill and shrewd judgment. Kaplan ( Thomas Carlyle ) shows how powerfully both as man and artist Dickens was shaped by the experience of his youth: on the one hand the humiliations showered on him by his penurious and feckless parents, on the other his mental escape into the bright world of the 18th-century novel which gave him his models for good and bad character. In tracing Dickens's career from ``boy prodigy'' to grizzled Victorian giant of letters, from the enchanted world of The Pickwick Papers to the grim and unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood , Kaplan covers his roles as journalist, novelist, social reformer and businessman, shedding considerable new light on his relations with his parents, wife and mistress, on his two trips to America and on his triumphant but exhausting public readings from his novels. Dickens was convivial, loyal, secretive and arrogant, with a ``performance personality'' that required applause for self-definition. He was also profoundly restless. Indeed, that word rings like a bell throughout the book. Illustrations. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
Hardcover - 607 pages - 978-0-340-48558-3
Paperback - 978-0-380-70896-3
Paperback - 640 pages - 978-0-8018-6018-8
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