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Publisher's Summary

Of Charles Dickens, Jane Smiley says that "his novels shaped his life as much as his life shaped his novels". Smiley's Charles Dickens is at once a sensitive profile of the great master and a fascinating meditation on the writing life. Smiley evokes Dickens as he might have seemed to his contemporaries: convivial, astute, boundlessly energetic, and lionized.Charles Dickens offers brilliant interpretations of almost all his major works, an exploration of his narrative techniques and his innovative voice and themes, and a reflection on how his richly varied lower-class cameos sprang from an experience and passion more personal than his public knew.
©2002 Jane Smiley; (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By D. Littman on 12-09-04

Outstanding book, deserves 6 stars, not 5

Jane Smiley has taken an innovative & thoroughly satisfying approach to this Dickens biography. Rather than a purely chronological exploration of the man & times, she has successfully intermixed biography, literary analysis, understanding the man from the novels, and the novels from the man's experience. By so doing, the reader gets a flavor of Dickens' business life, home life, formative years, and the cross influence on his literary output. As well as some comparisons of a personal & literary character with his novelist contemporaries. Jane Smiley is able to reach into her own experience as a novelist & as a celebrity (certainly not a celebrity of the stature of Dickens in his time, but able to extrapolate) to enrich our picture of the man & his times. The book is never boring, and the reader is also outstanding. I am hoping to sample a few more of these "small biographies" that come from the same series.

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19 of 19 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alan in Oakland on 10-28-07

A writer examined by a writer

A fascinating look at the life of Charles Dickens from another writer who asks: How did he create his career? How did he choose what to work on?

According to the reviews, this biography is shorter than others, which makes it perfect for an audiobook. It is just right for a trip from Oakland to San Diego, or a few weeks' commuting, and you come away with deep insight into a fun and famous author.

'Most everything I've read by Jane Smiley I have loved, and this is among her better books.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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