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Dickens' rise to fame and his world-wide popularity were by no means inevitable. He started out with no clear career in mind, drifting in and out of the theatre, journalism and editing before finding unexpected success as a creative writer. Taking account of everything known about Dickens's apprentice years, Robert L. Patten narrates the fierce struggle Dickens then had to create an alter ego, Boz, and later to contain and extinguish him. His revision of Dickens' biography in the context of early Victorian social and political history and print culture opens up a more unstable, yet more fascinating, portrait of Dickens. The book tells the story of how Dickens created an authorial persona that highlighted certain attributes and concealed others about his life, talent and publications. This complicated narrative of struggle, determination, dead ends and new beginnings is as gripping as one of Dickens' own novels.Read more
- Tracks Dickens' efforts to establish himself as a famous author
- Describes the conditions for producing and publishing journalism, serials, magazines and fiction in the early Victorian era
- Offers a new take on early Dickens, 200 years after his birth
- Winner, 2012 Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize, Research Society for Victorian Periodicals
Reviews & endorsements
"This is [a] clearly distinguished work that will change the way we see Dickens, moving as it does forward through Dickens’ career from uncertain beginnings rather than retrospectively … The study is intimately tied to periodicals and tells us new things about them, above all … the slippage and blurred boundaries between the periodical … and the novel."
Judges of the Colby PrizeSee more reviews
"[A] fascinating, detailed study of the complex and revealing relationship between Dickens and Boz, his nom-de-plume - or more accurately, his alter ego - through the formative years of his career."
"Including substantial notes, bibliography, and index, this is a superb study for any serious reader of Charles Dickens's work."
"Through his unrivalled knowledge of a rich but messy archive, Patten makes an impressively coherent case out of a story full of loose ends, changed minds and abandoned plans, as readers, publishers and critics sought to chain down the protean Boz."
"Patten evinces a fascination for his subject matter that carries the reader through this extraordinarily intricate study."
Times Literary Supplement
"Patten's long labours in the archives of Dickens's publishing history bring a valuable new reading of Dickens's earliest work into the light."
Simon J. James, Modern Language Review
"Dense and thoughtful."
"In Charles Dickens and 'Boz', Patten analyses the myth of Dickens, much of which, as he reveals, stems from the stories that the author like to tell about himself in later life."
Grace Moore, Literary Criticism
"… a monumental study of a decidedly un-monumental figure, an at times moment-by-moment account of a writer living by his wits, improvising and inventing not just fiction but a new way of being an author … Patten makes an impressively coherent case out of a story full of loose ends, changed minds and abandoned plans, as readers, publishers and critics sought to chain down the protean Boz."
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- Date Published: June 2012
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107023512
- length: 428 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
- weight: 0.74kg
- contains: 8 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Christening Boz (1812–1834): The Journalism Sketches
2. Characterizing Boz (1834–1837): Sketches by Boz
3. Writing Boz (1836–1837): The Pickwick Papers
4. Hiring Boz (1837–1839): Bentley's Miscellany and Oliver Twist
5. Paying Boz (1838–1839): Nicholas Nickleby
6. Rewriting Boz (1839–1841): Master Humphrey's Clock and The Old Curiosity Shop
7. Unwriting Boz (1841): Master Humphrey's Clock and Barnaby Rudge
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