Dickens on France
Fiction, Journalism and Travel
edited by John Edmondson
6" x 9" • 464 pages • illustrations, map
ISBN 9781566566889 • paperback • $20.00 •
"Edmondson's choices are brilliant...This is a very intelligently assembled book and should send many readers back to the originals for their special delights. Since much of book consists of unfamiliar material, the book has a very high value indeed. Recommended."
“Charles Dickens, Français naturalisé, et Citoyen de Paris.” This is how Dickens signed a letter from France to his friend John Forster in 1847. Behind the joke lay a fascination for French life and culture and a sense of affinity with the country that would take him back often and that would find expression in some of his finest work.
Dickens on France brings together short stories, extracts from novels and travel writing. Among its journalistic highlights are accounts of a train journey from London to Paris, a rough Channel crossing, the pleasures of Boulogne, and Parisian life in the 1850s and 1860s. Extracts from the travelogue Pictures from Italy take us by coach from Paris to Marseille. The selected short stories include “His Boots,” a section of “Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy” and “The Boy at Mugby,” and there are extracts from A Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Nicholas Nickleby, and Our Mutual Friend.
Dickens was interested primarily in the character of places he visited, the behavior of people he observed in them, and in the sensation and psychology of travelling. These preoccupations keep the writing fresh and accessible. It requires no leap through time to appreciate his musings on his fellow passengers, his reflections on sitting in a Paris café, his random exploration of city streets or small country towns, or his opposition to cultural bigotry. Infused with energy, perception and open-mindedness, this collection vividly evokes life in France and Britain in the nineteenth century and reminds us, however much progress we make, how little we change.
Dickens on France is extensively annotated to provide historical and autobiographical contexts and to highlight literary and other allusions. Brief chapter introductions and a general introduction to the volume highlight key aspects of the selections and discuss the nature of Dickens’s enduring relationship with France.
John Edmondson is a writer and publisher with a long-standing interest in both Charles Dickens and France. He is the author of France: A Traveller’s Literary Companion (1997).
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