Charles Dickens: A Critical Introduction

Charles Dickens: A Critical Introduction

Charles Dickens: A Critical Introduction

Charles Dickens: A Critical Introduction

Excerpt

THIS is not an attempt to give the full story of Dickens's life, but to provide an account of his career as an author. There are enough biographies which tell us everything about what he did in the intervals of writing, but which almost leave out of account the nature of his greatness as a novelist. In his Will, Dickens wrote, 'I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country on my published works.' In a memoir written just after Dickens's death Anthony Trollope said of him that for 'other matters he seemed to have a disregard', but 'to literature in all its branches his attachment was deep, and his belief in it was a thorough conviction'. Though no author offers more from a chronological approach to his books and a comparison between his life and his writings, the emphasis in this study is laid on his works.

Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812, the second child and eldest son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. His father was an improvident clerk in the Navy Pay-Office, then stationed near Portsmouth; his mother came of a slightly better class of respectable civil servants. They were a young couple in their twenties, light-hearted, energetic, and unliterary. Dickens probably owed them a good deal, but he confessed to no more than Mr. Micawber as his sole inheritance from his father, and Mrs. Nickleby from his mother.

We know little of Mrs. Dickens except that she was . . .

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