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The Artful Dickens


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Discover the tricks of a literary master in this essential guide to the fictional world of Charles Dickens

About the Author

John Mullan is Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London. He has published extensively on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. He is also a prolific broadcaster and journalist, and writes on contemporary fiction for the Guardian. In 2009 he was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize. His most recent book is What Matters in Jane Austen? He has lectured widely on both Austen and Dickens in the UK and the US, and makes regular appearances at UK literary festivals. He lives in London.


Splendid ... Mullan's book is too rich to capture in a review. Each chapter shoots off in a fresh direction and illuminates it ... You must, and should, read Mullan's book. Even if you know a lot about Dickens you will find revelations in it, and if you know nothing about Dickens and want to learn what makes him great it will be the perfect appetiser -- John Carey * Sunday Times *
In this brilliantly sharp book, John Mullan delves into all the ways in which the Great Boz grabs our attention on page one of his novels and refuses to let go until we are deposited a thousand pages later ... Mullan is a professor of English literature, which means that he has a forensic eye for how Dickens produces his spellbinding effects ... This vastly entertaining book gives the sense that Mullan is a man with a mission ... Mullan makes us see that Charles Dickens was one of the most artful, which is to say skilled, writers the world has ever seen -- Kathryn Hughes * Mail on Sunday *
Mullan has taken the most popular Victorian novelist and, by holding different facets of his literary technique up to the light, found new angles from which to admire the work. By the end of this teacherly but readable analysis, Dickens's novels are sparkling as if spring-cleaned ... Surrendering to Mullan's guided tour, we are swept into the world of Pip and Magwitch, Scrooge, the Boffins, Lady Dedlock, and a host of other familiar and much loved, loathed or pitiable characters from his extensive portrait gallery ... The Artful Dickens is a fulsome tribute to a writer whose commonly perceived flaws are part of what makes him great -- Rosemary Goring * Herald *
A spritely and surprising study of Dickens ... Mullan wears his formidable learning lightly in revealing how a teeming imagination made it on to the page * New Statesman *
The Artful Dickens is full of such nuggets. Put it on your Christmas list and spend the post-goose collapse reading the good bits aloud -- Laura Freeman * The Times *
John Mullan is that rare bird, a literary critic you want to read. His vigorous prose style, his generosity and acumen, his freedom from jargon, and the fact that he is an entertainer in his own right, make him the ideal guide to Dickens' genius. This is a marvellous, endlessly illuminating book - pointing even the most knowledgeable Dickensians to scenes they hadn't noticed, sentences they hadn't remembered, "tricks and ploys" they'd never sufficiently appreciated. It doesn't go on the shelf alongside other critics; it goes on the shelf alongside Dickens -- Howard Jacobson
A feast of Dickensian knowledge * The Times *
Excellent ... The closer we look, the better the novels get. The Artful Dickens is both an exposure of the trickster's methods and a celebration of close reading ... Enlightening ... If Mullan put into his hat a creator of gargoyles and spinner of melodrama, he pulled out an innovator who broke all the rules. The Artful Dickens made me feel that I had been in some form of trance during my earlier reading of these novels -- Frances Wilson * Guardian *
The most enlivening book about Dickens in the last thirty years, and very warmly recommended * Standpoint *

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