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  • The Artful Dickens

  • The Tricks and Ploys of the Great Novelist
  • By: John Mullan
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Oliver
  • Length: 13 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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The Artful Dickens cover art

The Artful Dickens

By: John Mullan
Narrated by: Jonathan Oliver
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Summary

'This is a marvellous, endlessly illuminating book ... It doesn’t go on the shelf alongside other critics; it goes on the shelf alongside Dickens' Howard Jacobson
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Discover the tricks of a literary master in this essential guide to the fictional world of Charles Dickens.

From Pickwick to Scrooge, Copperfield to Twist, how did Dickens find the perfect names for his characters?

What was Dickens's favourite way of killing his characters?

When is a Dickens character most likely to see a ghost?

Why is Dickens’s trickery only fully realised when his novels are read aloud?

In thirteen entertaining and wonderfully insightful essays, John Mullan explores the literary machinations of Dickens’s eccentric genius, from his delight in clichés to his rendering of smells and his outrageous use of coincidences. A treat for all lovers of Dickens, this essential companion puts his audacity, originality and brilliance on full display.

'Brilliantly sharp ... Mullan makes us see that Charles Dickens was one of the most artful, which is to say skilled, writers the world has ever seen' Mail on Sunday

'Put it on your Christmas list and spend the post-goose collapse reading the good bits aloud' Laura Freeman

'Even if you know a lot about Dickens you will find revelations in this book, and if you know nothing about him it will be the perfect appetiser' The Times, The best paperbacks of 2021
©2020 John Mullan (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

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Introduction to Dickens

The author has done a good job of selecting quotations from across the works of Dickens and collecting them into themed chapters that illustrate Dickens’ various writing skills: metaphor, changing tenses, sense of smell, descriptive names, use of coincidence etc. Mullan compares Dickens with his contemporaries, and comments on his influence, such as the way in which he popularised the ghost story as a new form. It is interesting to hear the various examples (the narrator often reading different characters’ voices well), and if you are new to Dickens this may whet your appetite, but generally I believe there is more enjoyment to be had from simply listening to a complete Dickens novel.

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An excellent analysis of Dickens

This is a fascinating book that artfully examines what makes Dickens such a compelling writer. The reader is superb, because he’s so good at performing the many extracts from the novels. It’s really a book for those who are already familiar with these works. Highly recommended.

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