A Companion to Charles Dickens
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A Companion to Charles Dickens

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A Companion to Charles Dickens concentrates on the historical, ideological, and social forces that defined Dickens's world. Puts Dickens's work into its literary, historical, and social contexts Traces the development of Dickens's career as a journalist and novelist Includes original essays by leading Dickensian scholars on each of Dickens's fifteen novels Explores a broad range of topics, including criticisms of his novels, the use of history and law in his fiction, language, and the effect of political and social reform Examines Dickens's legacy and surveys the mass of secondary materials that has been generated in response and reverence to his writing
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Product details

  • Hardback | 536 pages
  • 185 x 248 x 33mm | 1,084g
  • Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Chicester, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1405130970
  • 9781405130974

Back cover copy

Charles Dickens is one of the most widely read authors in English literature. This companion, comprising essays written by leading Dickensian scholars from around the world, places Dickens's writings in their literary and historical contexts and offers the factual and referential knowledge to enable readers to approach his works with insight and understanding.


Through Dickens's letters, journalism, and fiction, chapters examine the literary, visual, historical, ideological, and social forces that defined the world of his fiction. Individual essays explore a broad range of topics, including the role of illustrations in his novels, the literary tradition Dickens inherited, his unique facility with language, his uses of history and the extent to which Christian assumptions shaped him as a writer. Other contributions assess his attitude towards technology, the United States, law, gender, and political and social reform, while essays treating biographical matters and surveying Dickens criticism complete the volume. This unique companion will help readers better understand Dickens's work and will be an invaluable resource for students and professionals alike.
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Table of contents

List of Illustrations viii Notes on Contributors ix Preface xiv Acknowledgments xvi Abbreviations xvii Part I Perspectives on the Life 1 1 A Sketch of the Life 3 Michael Allen 2 Dickens's Use of the Autobiographical Fragment 18 Nicola Bradbury 3 "Faithfully Yours, Charles Dickens": The Epistolary Art of the Inimitable 33 David Paroissien 4 Three Major Biographies 47 Catherine Peters Part II Literary/Cultural Contexts 63 5 The Eighteenth-century Legacy 65 Monika Fludernik 6 Dickens and the Gothic 81 Robert Mighall 7 Illustrations 97 Malcolm Andrews 8 The Language of Dickens 126 Patricia Ingham 9 The Novels and Popular Culture 142 Juliet John Part III English History Contexts 157 10 Dickens as a Reformer 159 Hugh Cunningham 11 Dickens's Evolution as a Journalist 174 John M. L. Drew 12 Dickens and Gender 186 Natalie McKnight 13 Dickens and Technology 199 Trey Philpotts 14 Dickens and America (1842) 216 Nancy Aycock Metz 15 Dickens and Government Ineptitude Abroad, 1854-1865 228 Leslie Mitchell 16 Dickens and the Uses of History 240 John Gardiner 17 Dickens and Christianity 255 Valentine Cunningham 18 Dickens and the Law 277 Jan-Melissa Schramm Part IV The Fiction 295 19 The Pickwick Papers 297 David Parker 20 Oliver Twist 308 Brian Cheadle 21 Nicholas Nickleby 318 Stanley Friedman 22 The Old Curiosity Shop 328 Gill Ballinger 23 Barnaby Rudge 338 Jon Mee 24 Martin Chuzzlewit 348 Goldie Morgentaler 25 Dombey and Son 358 Brigid Lowe 26 David Copperfield 369 Gareth Cordery 27 Bleak House 380 Robert Tracy 28 Hard Times 390 Anne Humpherys 29 Little Dorrit 401 Philip Davis 30 A Tale of Two Cities 412 Paul Davis 31 Great Expectations 422 Andrew Sanders 32 Our Mutual Friend 433 Leon Litvack 33 The Mystery of Edwin Drood 444 Simon J. James Part V Reputation and Influence 453 34 Dickens and the Literary Culture of the Period 455 Michael Hollington 35 Dickens and Criticism 470 Lyn Pykett 36 Postcolonial Dickens 486 John O. Jordan Index 501
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Review quote

"Companions to Charles Dickens now...is a valuable resource for students... Paroissien's is certainly the richest, and... likely to be of most immediate and beneficial assistance to students." (Notes and Queries, March 2010) "It is difficult to overstate the importance of A Companion to Charles Dickens. The whole provides a rich seam of knowledge, placing Charles Dickens' writings in their literary and historical contexts, a serious work of scholarship. A copy should be placed in every library, whether public, college or academic. Not only is it an invaluable and multifaceted resource for students, teachers and scholars of Dickens, it is a cornucopia of delight for everyone who loves to read Dickens for pleasure alone." (Reference Reviews, Issue 8 2008) "This is an excellent book, to read with intellectual profit, stimulation, and pleasure. Distinctive in its own right in permitting long essays on a wide range of Dickensian topics. Volumes with a particular outwards-facing intention and stylistic accessibility such as this one, with their imagined audiences that include undergraduates and general readers as well as scholars, show it with clarity. A welcome and valuable book, an engaging collection to read, and a volume worthy of its subject." (Dickens Quarterly, September 2008) "Students of Dickens will find this handbook useful. In particular, the entries on the individual novels take the reader to the most important issues. Recommended." (Choice, November 2008) "A handy ... reference book for a graduate course on Dickens or more advanced studies, this Companion is indeed companionable. Organized both logically and comprehensively, the book is divided into five categories. In short, this Companion inspires one to go back and read all of Dickens's novels again." (English Literature in Transition)
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About David Paroissien

David Paroissien is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham. He edits Dickens Quarterly and co-edits, with Susan Shatto, the Dickens Companions series. He is the author of The Companion to Oliver Twist (1992), The Companion to Great Expectations (2000), and has edited The Mystery of Edwin Drood for Penguin (2002).
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