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Becoming Dickens - by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst (Paperback)

Becoming Dickens - by  Robert Douglas-Fairhurst (Paperback) - image 1 of 1
Becoming Dickens - by  Robert Douglas-Fairhurst (Paperback) - image 1 of 1
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About this item


Number of Pages: 389

Genre: Biography + Autobiography

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Belknap Press

Author: Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Language: English

Street Date: May 13, 2013
TCIN: 78572586
UPC: 9780674072237
Item Number (DPCI): 247-35-2986


Instead of trying to cast the whole life in crisp relief, [Douglas-Fairhurst] takes a piece--from the beginning to Pickwick--and turns it slowly in the light. His idea is that if we draw on all we've come to know about Dickens, we might capture the density of self-in-society, especially this blooming self in this bristling society. So we often move a day or an hour at a time in Becoming Dickens, watching the twitchy uncertain discovery of a vocation and then the thrill when this writer realizes he's a genius. Douglas-Fairhurst has a clever idea that also happens to work: As the young Dickens moves through London, the biography collects fictional episodes that correspond to the life-stage. So when Dickens is thrown to the blacking factory, Becoming Dickens gathers the tales of lost and abandoned children that will unspool through the career. When he's an apprentice in a law office (and a career as a writer is still notional), we meet the tribe of clerks who stumble through the novels' pages. It could have felt like clunky machinery, but the approach deftly shows how much of the future writer lives within the present journalist and the would-be actor. Douglas-Fairhurst lingers over phrases that echo back from the end of the career to the beginnings. He sees life and work as one work; and by slowing everything down, he comes closer than anyone before to cracking the mystery of the erupting young Dickens: the mix of frantic self-making and joyous cordiality.-- (11/07/2011)
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