Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

4.12 avg rating
( 189 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780007445318: Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

An exuberant and entertaining biography of Charles Dickens that captures the essence of the great novelist.Simon Callow`s sparkling biography explores the central importance of the theatre to the life of the greatest storyteller in the English language.From his early years as a child entertainer in Portsmouth to his reluctant retirement from `these garish lights' just before his death, Dickens was obsessed with the stage. Not only was he a dazzling mimic who wrote, acted in and stage-managed plays, all with fanatical perfectionism; as a writer he was a compulsive performer, whose very imagination was theatrical, both in terms of plot devices and construction of character.Like many actors, Dickens felt the need to be completed by contact with his audience. He was the original `celebrity' author, who attracted thousands of adoring fans to his readings in Britain and across the Atlantic, in which he gave voice to his unforgettable cast of characters.In Charles Dickens, Callow brings his own unique insight to a life driven by performance and showmanship. He reveals an exuberant and irrepressible talent, whose `inimitable' wit and personality crackle off the page.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Simon Callow is an actor, director and writer. He has appeared in many films, including the hugely popular Four Weddings and a Funeral. Callow's books include Being an Actor, Shooting the Actor, a highly acclaimed biography of Charles Laughton, a biographical trilogy of Orson Welles (of which the first two parts have now been published) and Love is Where it Falls, an account of his friendship with the great play agent, Peggy Ramsay.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

FOREWARD

When he was a young graduate, Michael Slater, the current doyen of Dickens studies, was asked by his tutors at Oxford what he wanted to study for his PhD. When he said ‘Dickens’, they looked at him aghast. Dickens was simply not part of the accepted canon. After vainly trying to dissuade him, they sent him off to Another University for advice and guidance, after which he then commenced his life’s work, to the benefit of all Dickensians everywhere. Half a century later, the situation is entirely reversed: there is a non-stop tsunami of scholarly studies of Dickens from every possible angle. Dickens and Women, Dickens and Children, Dickens and Food, Dickens and Drink, Dickens and the Law, Dickens and Railways, Dickens and the Americans, Dickens and Europe, Dickens and Homosexuality, Dickens and Magic, Dickens and Mesmerism, Dickens and Art, Dickens and Stenography, Dickens and Publishing. As yet, I have not come across a book on Dickens and Dogs, but it can only be a matter of time: a perfectly interesting and not especially slim volume is just waiting to be written. The multifariousness of Dickens makes him virtually inexhaustible as a subject. These studies have run alongside and to some extent been the outcrop of the huge transformation in academic attitudes to Dickens, particularly with regard to the later novels, which were largely dismissed by critical opinion in his lifetime.
 
There has also been a magnificent procession of major biographies, from Edgar Johnson in the 1950s to Fred Kaplan in the 1980s, Peter Ackroyd’s sublime act of creative self-identification with Dickens in the 1990s, Michael Slater’s revelatory account of, as he puts it, a life defined by writing, to the most recent, Claire Tomalin’s vivid survey of the Life and Work. Dickens has never been more present. So it takes some cheek on the part of one who is by no means a Dickens scholar to offer yet one more account of the man who called himself Albion’s Sparkler. I dare to do so because my relationship to the great man is a little different from anyone else’s. In an exchange that Dickens himself might have relished, the late dramatist Pam Gems went to see one of her plays performed by that fine actor Warren Mitchell. She noticed that one or two lines in the text had changed. Reproached by her, Mitchell replied, ‘Pam, Pam: you only wrote ’im. I’ve been ’im.’ I have, over the years, been Dickens in various manifestations, from reconstructions of the Public Readings on television, to one of Dr Who’s helpers; I have also been involved in telling his life story, through the wonderful play that Peter Ackroyd wrote for me, The Mystery of Charles Dickens. Presently I am involved in performing two of his monologues, Dr Marigold and Mr Chops, and his solo version of A Christmas Carol. In order to do all of this, I have needed to find out what it was like to be him, and what it was like to be around him. I have immersed myself, on an almost daily basis, over a period of nearly fifteen years, in the minutiae of his life, above all seeking out personal reminiscences and his own utterances rather than exegetic texts.
 
Over the years, since a thoughtful grandmother thrust a copy of The Pickwick Papers into my hands as I repined in the itchy agony of chicken pox – from the moment I started reading, I never itched again – I have read virtually everything he has written, with the mixture of joy and frustration that all readers of Dickens except for fundamentalists experience. But it is not the writing that is the focus of the present book: when the content of a novel is autobiographical (which to one degree or another many of them are), I have of course discussed it, but my primary concern has always been to convey the flavour of one of the most remarkable men ever to walk the earth: vivacious, charismatic, compassionate, dark, dazzling, generous, destructive, profound, sentimental – human through and through, an inspiration and a bafflement.
 
Inevitably, as the title of the book declares, I have focused on the theatre in Dickens’s life. In recent years there has been an exceptional sequence of books that analyse the influence of the theatre on Dickens’s work in subtle and deeply illuminating ways – books by Robert Garis, Paul Schlicke, Deborah Vlock, Malcolm Andrews, John Glavin. Again, this is not the territory of the present book, which looks at the histrionic imperative so deeply rooted in Dickens, but beyond that is interested in Dickens on the stage of life, as he would certainly have thought of it. I have always been concerned with the peculiar quality of his personality, described with remarkable consistency by his contemporaries as theatrical. The books, therefore, to which I have had most recourse are the ones that have given me the man as he lived and breathed: Forster’s richly moving three-volume Life, the very first biography, written by the man who knew him better than anyone else, and whose perpetual sense of astonishment at his friend sings out on every page; the glorious twelve-volume Pilgrim Edition of the Letters, wherein Dickens speaks again, fresh, funny, tortured by turns; the Speeches, edited by Fielding, all improvised but faithfully transcribed to give a unique sense of Dickens the public man; Philip Collins’s wonderful collection of reminiscences and interviews; and the superb and constantly illuminating chronology by Norman Page, which in its dry way gives as well as anything written a sense of the sheer amount of abundant living that Dickens crammed into his rather short life. In the end, of course, this biography, as with any other, is a selection of the man: playing Dickens, and performing his work, has been like standing in front of a blazing fire. If I can convey any sense of that, I will have succeeded in my aim.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Callow, Simon
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Lakeside Books
(Benton Harbor, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0007445318 We're not a giant, faceless warehouse organization! We're a small town bookstore that loves books and loves it's customers! Buy from us and you get great service as well as a great price! Your business is valued and your satisfaction is guaranteed!|0.7. Bookseller Inventory # 131408

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
0.79
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.04
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Callow, Simon
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New Softcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Book Condition: New. An exuberant and entertaining biography of Charles Dickens that captures the essence of the great novelist. Num Pages: 384 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: 2AB; BGL; DSBF; DSK. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 125 x 28. Weight in Grams: 312. . 2012. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # KLJ0015403

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
4.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Callow, Simon
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New Softcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Book Condition: New. An exuberant and entertaining biography of Charles Dickens that captures the essence of the great novelist. Num Pages: 384 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: 2AB; BGL; DSBF; DSK. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 125 x 28. Weight in Grams: 312. . 2012. 0th Edition. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # 9780007445318

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
5.21
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Callow, Simon
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Wit's End Books
(Berkeley, CA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0007445318 New: Packaged Carefully & Shipped Promptly. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed!. Bookseller Inventory # BG000235

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
2.21
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.04
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Callow, Simon
Published by HarperCollins Publishers (2012)
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New Softcover Quantity Available: 2
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, 2012. Book Condition: New. An exuberant and entertaining biography of Charles Dickens that captures the essence of the great novelist. Num Pages: 384 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: 2AB; BGL; DSBF; DSK. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 125 x 28. Weight in Grams: 312. . 2012. 0th Edition. Paperback. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # 9780007445318

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
6.12
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Simon Callow
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800074453180000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.27
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Simon Callow
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom (2012)
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An exuberant and entertaining biography of Charles Dickens that captures the essence of the great novelist. Simon Callow s sparkling biography explores the central importance of the theatre to the life of the greatest storyteller in the English language. From his early years as a child entertainer in Portsmouth to his reluctant retirement from these garish lights just before his death, Dickens was obsessed with the stage. Not only was he a dazzling mimic who wrote, acted in and stage-managed plays, all with fanatical perfectionism; as a writer he was a compulsive performer, whose very imagination was theatrical, both in terms of plot devices and construction of character. Like many actors, Dickens felt the need to be completed by contact with his audience. He was the original celebrity author, who attracted thousands of adoring fans to his readings in Britain and across the Atlantic, in which he gave voice to his unforgettable cast of characters. In Charles Dickens, Callow brings his own unique insight to a life driven by performance and showmanship. He reveals an exuberant and irrepressible talent, whose inimitable wit and personality crackle off the page. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007445318

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.50
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Simon Callow
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom (2012)
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An exuberant and entertaining biography of Charles Dickens that captures the essence of the great novelist.Simon Callow`s sparkling biography explores the central importance of the theatre to the life of the greatest storyteller in the English language.From his early years as a child entertainer in Portsmouth to his reluctant retirement from `these garish lights just before his death, Dickens was obsessed with the stage. Not only was he a dazzling mimic who wrote, acted in and stage-managed plays, all with fanatical perfectionism; as a writer he was a compulsive performer, whose very imagination was theatrical, both in terms of plot devices and construction of character.Like many actors, Dickens felt the need to be completed by contact with his audience. He was the original `celebrity author, who attracted thousands of adoring fans to his readings in Britain and across the Atlantic, in which he gave voice to his unforgettable cast of characters.In Charles Dickens, Callow brings his own unique insight to a life driven by performance and showmanship. He reveals an exuberant and irrepressible talent, whose `inimitable wit and personality crackle off the page. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007445318

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.66
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Simon Callow
Published by New England UP (2012)
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
Sandpiper Books Ltd
(NEWTON ABBOT, DEVON, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description New England UP, 2012. Book Condition: New. As an actor Simon Callow has played the part of Dickens and performed Dickens's works; as a writer he focuses on the role of theatre in the life of the novelist, public speaker and self-styled 'Sparkler of Albion'. The result is an exuberant, passionate portrayal of Dickens and the 'abundant living' that he crammed into a relatively short life. 'Callow not only admires his subject', wrote David Edgar in the Guardian, 'but has got inside him'. Bookseller Inventory # 221886

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
3.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 4
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Simon Callow
ISBN 10: 0007445318 ISBN 13: 9780007445318
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Start At Page 1
(Emneth, WIsbech, NFK, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 6288

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
3.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 4.10
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book