Denna diskussion är för närvarande "vilande"—det sista inlägget är mer än 90 dagar gammalt. Du kan återstarta det genom att svara på inlägget.
Your link is to the companion volume of a PBS/BBC series: 192 pages and lots of pictures. I bought a remaindered copy that I haven't gotten around to reading, but it looks to be a quick read. It looks like Ackroyd also has an older biography of Dickens that is more deserving of being called "massive".
There's also a 600 pager ... they still have affordable copies of that on Amazon.com.
Does the 1985 BBC dramatization of The Pickwick Papers do justice to the book? Does it come close?
(I apologize again for being off-topic, but I'd value the input of this group's members.)
I've downloaded an audio version of G.K.Chesterton's Charles Dickens and am listening to it this week. I haven't got very far with the Ackroyd book yet.
I'm still conflicted on the whole topic of literary biography. If I enjoy a writer's work, it's a bit of a blow to discover they're a flaming ***hole and taints subsequent enjoyment. Doubt I'm alone in that...
>16 tomcatMurr: - from what I remember Ackroyd felt that something was missing from the biography and added the fictional interludes after he had written the rest. Looking at some notes I took at the time of reading, I had forgotten Dickens also meets the author, T.S. Eliot, and a couple of other (of Ackroyd's favourite) writers.
You could argue that Dickens himself inspired these interludes; he claimed that his characters used to visit him in his study when he was writing.
I think Ackroyd used the interludes to discuss aspects of Dickens personality and, especially, his work that wouldn't have fitted easily into the main body of the text.
I suppose in the end, Ackroyd is asking what we expect from a biography - a straight life story? a textual analysis of the work? a psychological profile of the subject?
To counter all this, it is worth remembering that Iain Sinclair when reviewing Ackroyd's London: A Biography claimed it should have been called Ackroyd: A Biography.
It's interesting that the two commentators on Dicken's I've enjoyed most are Ackroyd and GK Chesterton - I wonder if the fact that they too are/were novelists has anything to do with it.
I actually prefer the Kaplan biography of Dickens. It gave more of the sense of Dickens making up his life as he went along, while Ackroyd's bio for me had a sense of inevitability about it. Also, I thought Kaplan was better at the general cultural context surrounding Dickens. But it sounds from what you say that probably the Ackroyd version I read suffered from the excisions. His focus seems to have been with Dickens and his relationship to his own creations.
Chesterton is indeed very insightful. current academic writing on Dickens (most of it turgid and dreadful as you would expect) constantly refers to Chesterton: he seems to be a touchstone of Dickens studies.
Amazon has several used copies available at a bargain (of the 1200 page version).
Peter Ackroyd's mammoth biography is also worth reading, although his inclusion of fictional interludes was controversial.
Forster's biography is essential reading, especially the fascinating first-hand recall of events. However, I wonder how much Forster distorted, given that Ellen Ternan is not mentioned at all (apart from her being listed first in Dickens' will in the annex - funny that the person listed first in the will is invisible in the three volume biography!) Any shade of Dickens not acceptable to Victorian England is erased so we do not find the complete man here. That (and Forster's pomposity) diminishes the biography.
Finally, I love 'Dickens as I knew him" by George Dolby - a fascinating behind the scenes look at Dickens by his friend and manager of the reading tours.