CHARLES by Victoria Lincoln

CHARLES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This ""biographical novel"" is the result of an attack of staphylococcus aureus during which Miss Lincoln, housebound and deaf in both ears, read through a shelf-long set of Dickens which, in turn, put her into a research orbit -- and Charles is the outcome of this three year love affair. Biographies, critical works, collections and annotations will fall aside for this torrential, impassioned, personal recreation of the Victorian writer from his childhood to the point where he was mid-way through his work on Little Dorrit; the recent attention to him will find that this lingering, loving look is explicit in how Charles got to be the great Dickens. Here's the boy -- toy theater, school, family and all, with even the ""orfling"" servant; the young man, ""exquisitely susceptible"" to a pretense of gentility, to a ""necessary myth"", to the spurious charms of Maria Beadnell (who left an ineradicable scar); the beginning writer, after other starts, who finds in the Hogarths, and Catherine (Kate) in particular, a chance for the security he longs for. The ""chaste bigamy"" that Kate's sister Mary brought into their marriage, the gradual realization that he had learned to hate Kate, the rise from pot-boiler to artist, the long train of success -- Pickwick, Old Curiosity, Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, the Christmas Books, David Copperfield, etc., etc., the indignities his father brought upon him, the deaths -- Mary's particularly, that saddened his climb, his friendships -- and other (feminine) interests, and the many new beginnings that debt and financial pressures demanded -- all this, and a lot more, fill in the picture of a man whose ""eyes never lost their vulgar innocence"" and of a complex person, brimful of warmth and energy -- and also of voluntary, personal blindness. Old Dickensians and new will discover new lights, new sensitivity, and new life in the old boy, in true period taste.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1962
Publisher: Little, Brown