Creating Characters with Charles Dickens

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9780271007250: Creating Characters with Charles Dickens
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In this study of thirty previously unrecognized models for Dickens's characters, most of them real people, Doris Alexander investigates Dickens's creation of his characters and the impact of the creative process on his life. In Creating Characters with Charles Dickens, Doris Alexander provides substantial insight into the creative process as it unfolded in Dickens's works. She reveals how Dickens converted not only public figures but close friends and family to fictional use. Her identification and analysis of a number of Dickens's characters allow her to reconstruct the personality structure, actions, and even speech patterns of the real person, thus establishing how far each of his characters shows a penetration into the psychodynamics of the real person. His analysis of his models is the work of a psychologist who understood intuitively the deep meaning of complex behavior, his own as well as that of his family and friends. Alexander then puts the emotional forces that shaped plot and characters into perspective by demonstrating the transforming influence of even mere technical demands for adapting the original figures to their fictional roles. Each chapter illustrates a specific aspect of Dickens's way of creating characters, including his shaping of two or more characters from one real personality. Perhaps the greatest interest of Doris Alexander's work lies in her use of memoirs, diaries, biographies, letters, and other recollections from Dickens's lifetime to sketch in the society that furnished his materials, the concerns of which he so richly embodied. Moreover, she explores his most profoundly autobiographical works to find what the characters meant for him, how he entered into them, and how the resolutions he found for their life problems resolved, in turn, important problems of his own. Her discussions of Little Dorrit and Great Expectations validate Bernard Shaw's insight that they are the real autobiographies. Here Alexander traces a moving journey to self-understanding and charity toward others, even to a comic version of Dickens's own painful domestic situation. Creating Characters with Charles Dickens naturally places in question and suggests reinterpretations for many conventional assumptions about Dickens's best known characters and sheds new light on his life story, personality, and creative method.

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About the Author:

After teaching at CUNY for many years, Doris Alexander is now an independent scholar living in Italy. She is the author of The Tempering of Eugene O'Neill (1962).

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Doris Alexander
Published by Penn State University Press (1991)
ISBN 10: 0271007257 ISBN 13: 9780271007250
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