Original Title: Dickens
Author: Stefan Majchrowski
First published: 1977
Format: print. (library copy)
My rating: 4/5
“Stefan Majchrowski (1908 – 1988) was a Polish writer who fought in the Invasion of Poland of 1939. He was later captured and incarcerated in the German POW camp. After his liberation by American forces, he served in the Polish Armed Forces in the West. In 2009, he was posthumously awarded by President Lech Kaczynski the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta “for outstanding contribution to the independence of the Polish Republic, for activities on behalf of democratic change in Poland as well as veterans and social activities for their performance in the work undertaken for the benefit of the country and social activities”. // wikipedia
I will start off by saying that this was the first biography of Charles Dickens I have read, so I realize I have nothing to compare it to, therefore, my giving this 4 stars is solely based on my enjoyment of Majchorwski’s book and not on comparison with other Dickens’ biographies.
Majchrowski provides a great insight into the life and work of one of the world’s most famous and beloved authors. Despite the fact that I’ve only ever read one, I would say this is a pretty good introduction to Dickens‘ biographies. It has a nice mix of Dickens‘ personal life and the political and historical situation in England as well as France, so you are able to put things into further context with regards to happenings and events of that time.
Along with describing and introducing Dickens as a man of the 19th century, he provides some brief analyses of his literary works in relation to his current situation and his motives and inspirations for his works.
The book is divided into 21 parts/chapters according to several periods of Dickens’ life, which make it fairly easy to read. It is written in chronological order starting with Dickens’ difficult childhood which is critical in understanding his later works. Same goes for Dickens’ writings – Majchrowski mentions them chronologically and spends some time introducing and analysing each of his works.
The reason I did not give this biography 5 stars is the lack of pictures and visual evidence. There were no pictures or photos in this book and even though it is still an interesting read, if the author would have provided some photos, it would have been a more enjoyable book.
Dickens’ fame & success
What makes Dickens different from many other world-famous authors is the fact that he was incredibly famous & beloved even in his own time. Many writers that are now considered the best in their field were not, infact, quite as popular when they lived. But Dickens was. He was very much appreciated and every one of his novels (then released in monthy installments) was anxiously expected by the whole England. That is why I find reading about Dickens and his success not only intellectually enriching but also quite motivating. He knew what he wanted and he worked hard for it.
“My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.” – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield.
Overall, I consider this biography a great and insightful material to study the ever fascinating Charles Dickens and his interesting and eventful life.
Thank you for reading!