- Paperback: 942 pages
- Publisher: Nabu Press (Aug. 15 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1177230658
- ISBN-13: 978-1177230650
- Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 4.7 x 24.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
Sketches by Boz Volume 1 Paperback – Aug 15 2010
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About the Author
Arguably one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens is the author of such literary masterpieces as A Tale of Two Cities (1859), A Christmas Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1850), and The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1839), among many others. Dickens' s indelible characters and timeless stories continue to resonate with readers around the world more than 130 years after his death. Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870.
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Unlike most writers, Dickens is equally at home in both the short story and the full-length novel format. This is because his novels were serialized in periodicals in their first publications. Only later were they edited for book form. "Sketches by Boz" is an offering of Dickens's first attempts at writing for a living. It consists of 56 passages, most of which can be read in a single sitting of less than half an hour. These are divided into four sections: "Our Parish", "Scenes", "Characters", and "Tales". Of these, only the last contains fiction. The 44 nonfiction accounts are just as entertaining as their made-up brothers. In fact, I found them even more fun to read at times. Dickens only thinly disguised the identities of his victims while lampooning them, and as editor Dennis Walder so rightly points out, many of these descriptions would surely result in lawsuits for libel if they were published about public figures today.
This was my first experience reading a Penguin Classics edition of Dickens, and I was extremely pleased with it. The editor introduced "Sketches" with a few notes of academic and historical interest, a particular one of which I found to be of great interest as it finally answered a question I'd had for half my life: namely, where Dickens had acquired his nickname of Boz. But more important for today's reader of Dickens is the "Notes" section at the back of the book in which Mr. Walder defines Dickensian slang and explains the author's references to people, events, and places of early nineteenth century London. Much of Dickens's wit is lost on today's reader without such disclosures.
One of my favorite ways of reading a classic author is to collect all of his or her works and then read through them at a leisurely pace in the order they were written. I did this with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with the intention of noting how his style developed over the years. I was surprised to find an unexpected benefit of that project: I was transported to those times and felt as I imagine one of Doyle's contemporary fans must have felt as he read each new Sherlock Holmes story. After finishing Doyle, I immediately began collecting Dickens for a similar project. "Sketches by Boz", being a collection of Dickens's first literary efforts, was of course the first in this series. The second Dickens book is "The Pickwick Papers", of which I have the Library of the Future edition. But after reading the Penguin Classics "Sketches", I'm determined to first replace "Pickwick" with the Penguin edition. The Penguin books are reasonably priced and well worth every penny.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Wnence does the name "Boz" derive? As a young lad Dickens gave his younger brother Augustus the nickname "Moses" in honor of a character in Oliver Goldsmith;'s classic novel "The Vicar of Wakefield." Young Augustus could not pronounce "Moses" correctly calling himself "Boz". Dickens decided this would be a good name to apply to himself as he submitted the anonymous humorous sketches he produced in profusion in the 1830s. We sometimes foget that Dickens was already an author prior to the ascension of Queen Victoria in 1837.
The Penguin edition divides the lengthy sketches into four sections:
"Sketches from our Parish:; :Scenes of London"; "Characters" and the best section "Tales" which are humorous short stories.
The book is illustrated by George Cruikshank a good friend of the author and along with Phiz one of Dickens best illustrators.
The various tales are of uneven quality. Do not read this book if you are seeking the complexity of a "Bleak House": "Little Dorrit" or "Our Mutual Friend." Do peruse them if you enjoy succinctly and well observed tales and sketches of what it was like to live in London in the 1830s as the city was becoming a vast metropolis filled with interesting characters. I loved Dickens sketches of what a London street scene was like in the bustle of early morning. His stories of life in the theatre were excellent as was his tour of Newgate prison .
If you have not read Dickens I suggest you begin with "The Pickwick Papers" and this apprentice work. Once you enter the magical, dangerous, hilarious wonderful world of Charles Dickens you will apply for citizenship papers in Mr. Dickens literary universe!