Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Michael Slater's Biography of Dickens

I have just finished Michael Slater's monumental biography of Charles Dickens.  It is a long book but well worth the read.  For people like me who are great fans of Dickens the book is a treasure.  It links Dicken's writing with his own biography.  I have always loved Dickens' ability to create characters who are memorable.  From Gradgrind to Macawber, many of them are almost onomatopoetic in their presentation.  Now I have a better understanding of the origins of many of those characters.

Slater, who is a retired professor from the University of London who specialized in Dickens, does a wonderful job of weaving the biography into the narrative of specific books and stories of Dickens.  I had understood that a good deal of his writing came from personal experience.  But Slater weaves the stories together in an interesting way.

I got the hardcover as a Christmas gift, but then also got the Kindle edition (yesterday Amazon announced that they are now selling more Kindle books than hardcovers - no wonder).   The Kindle edition looks marvelous on my iPad and it is a lot lighter than the 720 pages in the hardcover edition.   If you want to understand Dickens or even if you want to understand the key link that one famous writer made between his life and his craft - Slater's book is a great way to do it.

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