Charles Dickens: A Biography from New Sources

Charles Dickens: A Biography from New Sources

Charles Dickens: A Biography from New Sources

Charles Dickens: A Biography from New Sources

Excerpt

Here, in some sort of outline, is the life, as I see it, of Charles Dickens.

You will be aware of the fact that this is not the first attempt of the kind to be made. There are Lives of Dickens of all sorts and sizes. There are ceremonious giants of Lives and light-hearted midgets of Lives, Lives more or less built up from Dickens's own books, and Lives manufactured to prove some pet theory of the writer. There are Lives written for children and for literary students and even for those harmless and sometimes most useful folk, the book-collectors. As if all these were not enough, Dickens's life has been broken up into small pieces, and Lives have been written about every one of the fragments. Moreover, there are critical books into which biographical matter must be brought; collections of letters; a whole library of "personal recollections"; a bewildering array of explanatory theses which contradict one another in the most cheerful way; and a magazine, now in its twenty-fourth year, which pays quarterly homage in a manner which would probably have delighted (as it would assuredly have astonished) Dickens himself.

Of these Lives one stands out from the rest. "The Life of Charles Dickens" by John Forster has been called all sorts of harsh names, but it is a very great book. Its author, that stubborn and masterful but very loyal old man, has been blamed on various grounds. It is said that he was too fond of writing about John Forster. It is said that he shows you an idealized Dickens.

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