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Chatterton Paperback – Nov 8 1988


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Paperback, Nov 8 1988
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK; New edition edition (Nov. 8 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034910008X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349100081
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 82 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,151,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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AS SOON as he turned the corner, he looked for the House above the Arch. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
"Chatterton" by Peter Ackroyd is a quirky, but interesting novel about an aged poet who discovers a lost journal that could turn the literary world upside down. It seems that Thomas Chatterton may have survived much longer than the world thought he did, and not only that, but he "ghostwrote" a lot more than we thought he did. Thrown into the mix is Harriet Scope, an elderly novelist, who is a secret plagarist(she rips off fourth-rate Victorian novels). Told from three different times: the 1770's through Chatterton's eyes; 1856 through George Meredith, who was the model in the famous painting of Chatterton; and in the present day, this novel explores just how far fakery can go, and the question if poetry really matters. There were a few flaws in it, but I did like how they explained what really happened to Chatterton, and why it happened.
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Format: Paperback
Did Thomas Chatterton, one of the great forger/poets of the 18th century, die of an overdose of laudanum in 1770? Or did he fake his own death and continue merrily publishing work under the names of recently deceased poets?
When novelist George Meredith posed as Chatterton in Henry Wallace's painting "The Death of Chatterton," is it true that the painter made off with his oblivious model's wife?
In the present day, were the papers found by poetaster Charles Wychwood in Bristol really the confessions of Chatterton written in his own hand? And what about that painting of Chatterton as a middle-aged man? (He was supposedly 17 when he died.)
Will literary "resurrectionist" Harriet Scrope succeed in taking Wychwood's work on Chatterton and passing it off as her own, just as Stewart Merk merrily signed the dead painter Seymour's name to his own work?
Why am I asking so many questions?
Because there are no answers. That's all right, though, because the questions are great; and they just keep on coming. If you read this book, you will sink deep into a morass of counterfeiting, fraud, and outright fakery.
Be prepared to be bamboozled ... and entertained.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Chatterton was a real 18th-century poet. As a teenager he invented a 15th-century poet, Thomas Rowley and wrote poems in an appropriately archaic style. As a young man he went off to London, wrote poems and short stories, but could not sell enough of his work to make a living and committed suicide by eating arsenic. The poems of Rowley were collected and published after Chatterton's death, but it was not until the third edition that it was revealed the poems were entirely Chatterton's invention and his short and tragic life was embraced by the Romantics: Keats wrote a sonnet to Chatterton, Wordsworth used him in a poem, and he was the subject of Oscar Wilde's last lecture.
It is not surprising that Peter Ackroyd would be interesting in writing a novel about Chatterton's life, since the author has long been interested in masks, impersonation, and other ways of presenting a public pretense. Consequently, this is not a historical novel, although it deals with real people and real times. After all, little is really known about Chatterton beyond his poems. Obviously dissatisfied with the time and place of his birth, Chatterton creates Rowley as a way of improving his lot in life, or, at least, that is clearly his intention. But in the real world Chatterton cannot function. He takes pride in writing political satires that attack everyone and everything, but in failing to have convictions and a particular point of view, he reveals that in presenting other identities he has lost his true one. In this regard and in this novel, however, he is clearly not alone.
"Chatterton" is clearly not a conventional historical novel is that Ackroyd repeatedly plays with chronology. He is more interested in comparing and contrasting events than he is in sequencing them appropriately.
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