Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens

Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens

Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens

Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens

Synopsis

Here is the greatest compendium of information ever produced about one of the greatest writers who ever lived. For anyone wishing to learn more about Dickens's life and works and the literary, political, and social milieu in which he lived, there is no better place to turn than The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Written by a distinguished team of over 60 scholars, and edited by Paul Schlicke, former president of The Dickens Society, The Companion offers: BLA detailed exploration of the private man and the public figure. Over 500 alphabetical entries chart the age in which Dickens lived and worked, the places which were significant to him, and the ideas and social theories of his time. BLComprehensive coverage. Entries cover all Dickens's work, including his journalism. BLUp-to-date literary scholarship. Contributors draw upon recent work in areas such as publishing history, book illustration, periodical reviewing, women's studies, and cultural studies to offer a synthesis of the current state of Dickens scholarship. BLEssential tables. Contains a complete chronology of Dickens's life, a list of characters and of abbreviations, a thematic overview, and an extensive bibliography. BLOver 50 beautiful black-and-white illustrations and four maps. Most importantly, The Companion illuminates the intricate connections between Dickens's life, his writings, and his time. Anyone wishing to more fully enjoy the crowded world of Dickens's imagination will be superbly aided by the wealth of information gathered here on Dickens's reality.

Excerpt

The first in Dickens's long line of memorable characters, the 'immortal' Samuel Pickwick, announces in the opening pages of the book which bears his name that he intends to travel with his companions for the purpose of 'enlarging his sphere of observation, to the advancement of knowledge, and the diffusion of learning'. Integral with the comic adventures for which he was conceived is the eager curiosity to observe and to learn which underlies his character. This trait reflects one primary aspect of his creator's achievement, which Walter Bagehot noted when he referred memorably to Dickens as 'a special correspondent for posterity'

Throughout his life Dickens observed, recorded, and participated in a wide variety of issues and events which centrally occupied English men and women in the nineteenth century. A primary purpose of the Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens is to evoke that milieu in which he lived and wrote, as well as to provide detailed information about his life, works, and reputation. Above all, the Companion is designed to illuminate the active interrelation between the man, his writings and activities, and his time. Entries describe family, friends, and associates; literary and theatrical traditions which he inherited; institutions and ideas which he satirized; circumstances he responded to; houses he lived in and countries he visited; the cultural climate in which he moved. These are conceived not as inert background, but as integral components of his life and work. The book is organized to situate his public life and his private life within the dynamic context of the people, places, and activities which influenced him, even as he influenced them. In short (as Mr Micawber would say), the ambition of the Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens is to provide the most comprehensive of reference books on England's greatest novelist.

The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens is also designed to reflect contemporary directions in literary study. Written by a international team of more than sixty scholars and specialists, it draws on recent work in areas such as publishing history, book illustration, periodical reviewing, women's studies, and cultural studies, and on challenging revaluations of readership and the canon. The Companion offers a composite picture of current approaches to scholarship, criticism, and theory, as they apply to Dickens. In so doing, it constitutes a synthesis of the state of the art of Dickens studies.

The Companion is organized to provide in one volume easily accessible, meticulously reliable information for the general reader and specialist alike. It offers breadth of scope allied to depth of detail, in order to serve both as a resource of first resort for the specialist, and as a source of accessible and dependable information for the general reader. An alphabetical ordering of crisply written entries, with extensive cross-referencing and a wide-ranging index, is presented to facilitate searching into specific topics and is intended to encourage exploration into related matters. It is a book to consult, to browse in, and to inspire further reading.

What the Companion does not do is to annotate Dickens's works. There are entries on authors he drew upon, but not on specific quotations and allusions. Similarly, it . . .

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