"This miscellany not only reveals the writer's evident love of France and of most things French, but also provides rich insight into French everyday life, travel and society from revolutionary excesses through to Second Empire enrichment."
“Dickens on France offers much more than a selection of extracts, some familiar, some less so. It is a book which explains and illustrates one of Dickens’s strongest relationships and is to be strongly recommended.”
“John Edmondson … provides the facts about the development of the pull Dickens felt France exerted and augments them with pertinent information about the growth of travel and travel writing during the nineteenth century.”—Dickens Quarterly
“Charles Dickens, Francais naturalise, 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 behaviour 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 cafe, 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 auto-biographical 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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450 pages (approx), notes, index, illustrations, map