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Charles Dickens as a Reader   By: (1823-1902)

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Charles Dickens as a Reader by Charles Kent provides a unique insight into the literary tastes and influences of one of the most celebrated authors in history. Through an extensive analysis of Dickens's personal library, Kent masterfully sheds light on the books that shaped the mind and imagination of this literary genius.

In this remarkable work, Kent delves into the depths of Dickens's passion for reading, dissecting his annotated copies, marginal notes, and revealing passages. From the classics of English literature to contemporary works of his time, Dickens's diverse reading repertoire becomes apparent, showcasing his wide-ranging interests and voracious appetite for knowledge.

The book is meticulously structured, organizing Dickens's reading list into distinct categories such as novels, poetry, drama, and non-fiction. Within each category, Kent expertly explores the impact of specific titles on Dickens's own writing style and thematic choices. By examining the marked passages and insightful comments left by Dickens in these books, readers gain a profound understanding of the way he drew inspiration from various sources and incorporated them into his own narratives.

Moreover, Kent's analysis brilliantly highlights the symbiotic relationship between Dickens's reading habits and his writing career. He uncovers how certain authors and works influenced Dickens's character development, plot structures, and narrative techniques. For instance, the influence of William Shakespeare on his plays, or the impact of authors like Sir Walter Scott on his historical fiction is explored in depth, providing valuable insights for both Dickens enthusiasts and scholars alike.

One of the most captivating aspects of this book is how it illuminates the evolution of Dickens's literary tastes throughout his life. By examining his library at different stages of his career, Kent demonstrates how Dickens's preferences shifted, adapted, and evolved, mirroring his growth as a writer and as an individual. This glimpse into the transformative power of literature on a great author's mind is truly enlightening and engrossing.

Kent's prose is engaging, scholarly, and insightful. He seamlessly weaves together biographical information, literary analysis, and historical context, allowing readers to fully appreciate the significance of Dickens's reading choices. The book is richly illustrated with facsimiles of Dickens's marginalia, enhancing the reading experience and making it feel like a journey through the mind of this iconic writer.

Although the book's focus is primarily on Charles Dickens's reading habits rather than providing an exhaustive analysis of his entire body of work, it unquestionably deepens our understanding of and appreciation for his writing. Charles Dickens as a Reader is a must-read for anyone interested in Dickens's literary influence, his creative process, and the profound impact of reading on a writer's craft. Charles Kent's meticulous research, coupled with his passion for the subject, makes this book an invaluable addition to the library of Dickens enthusiasts and scholars alike.

First Page:



By Charles Kent.

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Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. London: Chapman & Hall, 193, Piccadilly.



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As the title page of this volume indicates, no more is here attempted than a memorial of Charles Dickens in association with his Readings. It appeared desirable that something in the shape of an accurate record should be made of an episode in many respects so remarkable in the career of the most popular author of his generation. A commemorative volume, precisely of this character, was projected by the writer in the spring of 1870. Immediately after the Farewell Reading in St James's Hall, on the 15th of March, Charles Dickens wrote, in hearty approval of the suggestion, "Everything that I can let you have in aid of the proposed record (which, of course , would be far more agreeable to me if done by you than by any other hand) shall be at your service." All the statistics, he added, should be placed freely at the writer's command; all the marked books from which he himself read should be confided to him for reference. In now realising his long postponed intention, the writer's endeavour has been throughout to restrict the purpose of his book as much as possible to matters either directly or indirectly affecting these famous Readings... Continue reading book >>

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