Friday, November 6, 2009

review of dickens biography

Michael Dirda, Washington Post:
Many modern readers, I think, rather neglect Dickens, disdaining him as melodramatic and sentimental. Instead, we revere Jane Austen for her subtle wit or turn to Henry James for his delicate analyses of human motivation. But Dickens really is our prose Shakespeare. For proof, try almost any of his novels or just watch a DVD of the Royal Shakespeare Company or the BBC dramatizations of "Nicholas Nickleby," "Oliver Twist" or "David Copperfield." When Thackeray, whose "Vanity Fair" was then being published to wild acclaim, first read the scene of young Paul's death in "Dombey and Son," he famously -- and rightly -- cried out: "There's no writing against such power as this -- one has no chance!" For anybody who wants to know more about this dynamo of Victorian letters, Michael Slater's superb biography is the one to read.

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