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Free Barron's Booknotes-David Copperfield by Charles Dickens-Free Book Notes
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Dickens... was... the greatest dramatic writer that the English had had since Shakespeare, and he created the largest and most varied world.

Edmund Wilson, The Wound and the Bow, 1947.

Dickens's fictional world is populous but tidy-a world with abundant poetic justice, problems solved, and no loose ends.

Philip Collins, Charles Dickens: David Copperfield, 1977.

[Dickens's] books are full of baffled villains stalking out or cowardly bullies kicked downstairs. But the villains and the cowards are such delightful people that the reader always hopes the villain will put his head through a side window and make a last remark; or that the bully will say one more thing, even from the bottom of the stairs.

G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, 1906.

That Dickens was a great genius and is permanently among the classics is certain. But the genius was that of a great entertainer, and he had for the most part no profounder responsibility as a creative artist than this description suggests.

F. R. Leavis, The Great Tradition, 1950.

Like the Victorian age itself, with its surface of exuberant confidence... and its undersurface of uncertainty, the appearance of Dickens's happy position was a deceptive and incomplete indication of his state of mind.

George Ford, Introduction to David Copperfield, 1958.

When people say Dickens exaggerates, it seems to me they can have no eyes and no ears. They probably have only notions of what things and people are; they accept them conventionally, at their diplomatic value.

George Santayana, "Dickens," in The Dial, 1921.

Dickens' London may be different from actual London, but it is just as real, its streets are of firm brick, its inhabitants genuine flesh and blood.... It does not matter that Dickens' world is not lifelike: it is alive.

David Cecil, Early Victorian Novelists, 1934.

The outstanding, unmistakable mark of Dickens' writing is the unnecessary detail.... He is all fragments, all detail-rotten architecture, but
wonderful gargoyles.

George Orwell, "Charles Dickens," 1940.

Dickens is always great on the subject of childhood-that sunny time, as it is conventionally called, but which, as Dickens represents it, and as we recollect it, is somewhat showery withal.

Unsigned review, Fraser's Magazine, 1850.

When [Dickens] suggests, as he does repeatedly, that Copperfield is really about 'the mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart,' we don't believe him; this is a clear case of 'Never trust the artist, trust the tale'- the tale being not an affair of Theme, of subjects, at all.

John Jones, "David Copperfield," in Dickens and the Twentieth Century, 1962.


We wish to thank the following educators who helped us focus our Book Notes series to meet student needs and critiqued our manuscripts to provide quality materials.

Sandra Dunn, English Teacher , Hempstead High School, Hempstead, New York

Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Professor of English, Suffolk County Community College, Selden, New York

Leonard Gardner, Lecturer, English Department, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Beverly A. Haley, Member, Advisory Committee, National Council of Teachers of English Student Guide Series, Fort Morgan, Colorado

Elaine C. Johnson, English Teacher, Tamalpais Union High School District, Mill Valley, California

Marvin J. LaHood, Professor of English, State University of New York College at Buffalo

Robert Lecker, Associate Professor of English, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

David E. Manly, Professor of Educational Studies, State University of New York College at Geneseo

Bruce Miller, Associate Professor of Education, State University of New York at Buffalo

Frank O'Hare, Professor of English and Director of Writing, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Faith Z. Schullstrom, Member of Executive Committee, National Council of Teachers of English, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Guilderland Central School District, New York

Mattie C. Williams, Director, Bureau of Language Arts, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois

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