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The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199591415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199591411
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 4.1 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 241,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth where his father was a clerk in the navy pay office. The family moved to London in 1823, but their fortunes were severely impaired. Dickens was sent to work in a blacking-warehouse when his father was imprisoned for debt. Both experiences deeply affected the future novelist. In 1833 he began contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and in 1836 started the serial publication of Pickwick Papers. Thereafter, Dickens published his major novels over the course of the next twenty years, from Nicholas Nickleby to Little Dorrit. He also edited the journals Household Words and All the Year Round. Dickens died in June 1870.


Product Description

Review

Glorious. This is a book for which readers have been waiting for a very long time. It takes you directly, in Dickens's own words, and with incomparable vividness, into his extraordinary life and mind. The notes and editorial matter deftly paint in the background to provide a detailed and constantly astonishing portrait of one of the most interesting men who ever lived. (Simon Callow)

Among the dozens of Dickens publications connected with the bicentenary of the author's birth ... it is hard to imagine one more necessary than this (Times Literary Supplement)

glorious letters reflecting every facet of Dickens's life; should not be missed (Sunday Times)

This is Dickens by Dickens. Whatever comes out in this bicentenary year, do not miss it. (The Sunday Times)

(Hartley's) selection is a miracle of compression and editorial tact (New Statesman)

Dickens lovers will all be grateful to Hartley for her skill and judgement. (Literary Review)

Edited with unobtrusive intelligence and insight by Jenny Hartley (The Independent)

a marvellous volume (The Scotsman)

It's a thrilling, surprisingly fresh book. (The Evening Standard)

An absolute gem ... reads better than any actual novel Dickens ever wrote ... Hartley would please a great many readers by producing a second volume from the same dragon-hoard ... A typically classy Oxford affair (Open Letters)

This is the book we have all been waiting for ... Every reader has his or her favourite aspect of Dickens, and may miss a particular letter or letters - I am no exception. But I do not think anyone could have made a more balanced selection from the embrarrassment of riches in his letters, or justified her choices more persuasively. We are all in Professor Hartley's debt for her magnificent edition. (Dickens Quarterly)

The 450 [letters] included in The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens, edited by Jenny Hartley, are more revealing and more intimate than any biography. (Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books)

About the Author

Jenny Hartley is Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University. She is the author of two books on British women's writing from the Second World War, and The Reading Groups Book, a pioneering survey of reading groups. Her most recent book, Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women, published by Methuen in 2008, was picked Guardian 'Book of the Week' and described as 'brilliant' by Claire Tomalin. For the last ten years she has been a leading member of the Prison Reading Groups project.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on 5 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book took me forever to read, even though most of the letters in it were fairly short. In my opinion much of the correspondence was boring, made more difficult by the fact that you only get one side of the conversation. Some of the letters were pointless - simply replying to an invitation without any hint about where the invitation was to or what it was for. While they did give some interesting information particularly about social reform at the time and his trip to the US and some of his novels, I felt that I learned very little about Dickens other than that he was a very contradictory man saying some things to one person and other things to other people. In the end I found myself rushing to finish the book so I could put it away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Tyler VINE VOICE on 31 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Read with a sense of loss at the missing and destroyed correspondence. But there is still plenty here to enjoy ranging from family to business matters, with advice on writing, running a household, etc.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An important means of gaining an insight into the day to day affairs of an author who made a huge contribution to the Literature of England
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you can't afford the time or money for the Pilgrim Edition of CD's letters then consider this. I have been reading it in chronological tandem with the book version of Michael Slater's biography of Dickens. The biography gives much more background to the letters, and the letters bring some more life to the biographical detail in Slater's book (many letters are quoted or referred to in this anyway)!

Immensely talented, very various in his interests, a great writer - the letters provide insight into all these aspects of Dickens's character and life. However, one of the reasons that I bought this book on Kindle (on January offer and fantastic value) was to test out how using a 'reference' book of this sort worked on the Kindle. As its 450 letters are all contained in one chapter (as in the 'tree' book) it isn't really possible to 'dip in' or flick through as you can in a 'real' book. Sub-headings to the Letters chapter in the Contents list (possibly by decade or similar) would help. You could use the search function and then bookmark if you wanted, or/and the very thorough Index and then 'go to' but perhaps that is a bit clunky just for a general read. I have been happy just to read sequentially; however I don't see why the Kindle version could not work for academic purpose too if you get used to the electronic manoeuvring.
Overall, I am finding it a great reading resource as I keep going back to the letters a few at a time when I am not wanting to get into a novel; and they are also adding texture as a 'read along' to the Dickens' biography. Recommended, and a must for Dickens fans anyway - whichever version you choose.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 24 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To read the letters of a great author is a great priviledge to behold. This is especially true of Charles Dickens, arguably the greatest novelist of our Isles. This volume shows him in many lights, as a traveler, kind friend, and a close observer of the social issues of his age. He can also be quite humorous.
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