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Dickens (1990)

von Peter Ackroyd

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6691026,528 (4.06)82
A biography of the life and work of the celebrated English novelist.
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The greatest biography on Dickens ever written. Invaluable tool for any fan of this writer. ( )
  charlie68 | Jul 5, 2018 |
Ackroyd's tremendously readable, detailed, and penetrating biography of Dickens is twice the length of Moby Dick, as well it should be for such a titanic figure. Dickens lives in these pages, along with a vast supporting cast and London itself. Majestic. ( )
  mcduck68 | Apr 23, 2018 |
Long but engrossing. Interesting reflections that occasionally interrupt the chronology. ( )
  Lewter | Jul 17, 2016 |
Way too long, but I guess that's appropriate for the long-winded Dickens. I think Ackroyd could have adequately conveyed the essence of the man with various anecdotes rather than creating a day-to-day history. BUT he certainly did give me a sense of the man that I did not possess heretofore. The manic energy, the imagined slights, helped round out my vague idea of a man of unique sensibilities. The only shock to me was how shabbily he treated his wife and how he justified his actions through self-deceit. Overall, a fascinating portrait of a fascinating man. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 19, 2014 |
At just under 1100 pages, no one could accuse Peter Ackroyd of skimping upon the tale of Charles Dickens. I would also be surprised if anyone were bored by this book: I was gripped from page one to the end. It is an exceedingly well rounded biography and Mr Ackroyd goes to considerable trouble to neither castigate Dickens for his life's mistakes, or to exonerate him from responsibility. It is clear that Charles, whilst probably being the first celebrity to champion the humanity of the poor, was a rampant racist. He loved his audience and could not do enough for them, but treated his wife most poorly.

Few English speaking people can be ignorant of the works of Dickens, or the fact that our "traditional Christmas" is an, almost exclusively, Dickens creation. Most will know, too, of his reading tours of both Britain and America which turned him into an early rock star. I was not, however aware of his involvement in the Staplehurst train crash, where he saved the life of a chap, ironically called Dickinson, and further risked his life to save the manuscript of his latest work. Dickens suffered a type of railway phobia for the remaining five years of his life and his son, Charley is reported to have said that he is convinced that the accident cost Dickens his life. This might have more impact were it not for the fact that the same progeny seems to have blamed his readings based upon the death of Nancy, his reading tours in general and his illicit affair with Ellen Ternan.

Ackroyd's style of literary longevity means that there is time to explore life in the nineteenth century and the detail about the debtor's gaol is particularly interesting. To say that this book is a must for any Dickens fan, is so obvious, as to be unnecessary, but this tome is worth the reading by any body interested in British history, the art of biography, or just fine writing. This book enters my bookcase as a new friend. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Feb 3, 2012 |
... though it is maddening in its smugness, arises from a field of vision almost preposterously narrow, seems relentlessly self-absorbed and is couched in prose that often slithers and simpers, the book still finds a way to insinuate its importance. It does so, I think, not because it is itself peculiar but because it is so open to the peculiarity of its subject. Mr. Ackroyd's "Dickens" demands our attention precisely (and only) because it is so open to the strange.
 
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Charles Dickens was born on the seventh of February 1812, the year of victory and the year of hardship.
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This is by Peter Ackroyd's original 1990 biography, Dickens (1,200± pages). Please do not combine this original biography with either Ackroyd's first abridgment thereof (600± pages), or with his abbreviated, illustrated biography of Dickens (200± pages), published in 2002 to coincide with the BBC TV series of the same name. Thank you.
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A biography of the life and work of the celebrated English novelist.

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