The Dickens Dictionary (Hardback)
An A-Z of England's Greatest Novelist
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For fans new and old, an enjoyable tour through the world of Dickens in the hands of a master critic. Charles Dickens, the ‘Great Inimitable’, created a riotous fictional world that still lives and breathes for thousands of readers today. But how much do we really know about the dazzling imagination that brought all this into being? For the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth, Victorian literature expert John Sutherland has created a gloriously wide-ranging alphabetical companion to Dickens’ work, excavating the hidden links between his characters, themes, and preoccupations, and the minutiae of his endlessly inventive wordplay. Covering America, Bastards, Childhood, Christmas, Empire, Fog, Larks, London, Madness, Murder, Orphans, Pubs, Punishment, Smells, Spontaneous Combustion and Zoo to name but a few – John Sutherland gives us a uniquely personal guide to the great man’s work. Excerpt: HANDS; Every Dickens novel has a master image. In Our Mutual Friend it is the river. In Bleak House it is the fog. In Little Dorrit, it is the prison. In Great Expectations it is the hand. We often know much more about the principals’ hands in that novel than their faces. Who, when the name Magwitch is mentioned, does not think of those murderous ‘large brown veinous hands’? Jaggers? One’s nose twitches—scented soap (the lawyer, like Pontius Pilate, is forever washing his hands). Miss Havisham? Withered claws. So it goes on…
John Sutherland is the recently retired Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus at University College London: a title that one feels Dickens might have had some fun with. He has taught and published widely, particularly on Victorian fiction. His most recent relevant books are The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Longman, 2009) and Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives (Profile, 2011). He and Stephen Fender published Love, Sex, Death and Words: Surprising Tales from a Year in Literature with Icon Books in 2010.