Charles Dickens

10 of the Most Depressing Places in Literature

After reading Tara Isabella Burton’s American Reader essay, “The Geography of Melancholy,” it’s natural to find yourself thinking about the most depressing cities, towns, and municipalities in literature. Burton points out that, in the real world, “Nearly every historic city has its brand of melancholy indelibly associated with it — each variety linked to the scars the city bears.” She also connects writers and the cities that influenced them — “Baudelaire’s Paris, Zweig’s Vienna, Morris’s Trieste.” There are many more, of course — here are a selection of other depressing places and the writers they inspired. … Read More

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Michael Keaton Returns, and So Does Charles Dickens: Links You Need to See

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a… half-naked Michael Keaton running through Times Square. Well, really, it’s your afternoon links!  … Read More

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The 10 Best Weddings in Literature

I say this as someone who has written a book about going to weddings — Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guestout now from Riverhead — but that doesn’t mean I’m biased. It’s simply true: Weddings make for great scenes, unforgettable moments of high expectation, emotion, and drama — in fiction as well as in nonfiction. I’ve gathered a few of my favorites from books new and old (though not necessarily blue), along with my feelings on why these particular weddings make for great reading. … Read More

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The 25 Greatest Homes in Literature

Great characters in literature get all the credit, but the fictional spaces they occupy are often just as interesting and can provide an opportunity for the reader to go even deeper into a story. What would some of your favorite stories be without the creepy old farmhouses, crumbling castles, and estates overlooking a body of water whose waves crash against the rocks at night? To celebrate the birthday of Daphne du Maurier — a writer who gave us one of the 20th century’s most unforgettable grand old homes, in Rebecca — we’re rounding up the most memorable structures that served as settings for some of our favorite… Read More

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The 50 Greatest British Novels of the 19th Century

In the 19th century, authors in the United Kingdom (we are counting authors from Ireland and Scotland here) produced novels that challenged class systems, trained an eye on the deplorable living conditions of the working class, gave us some of the earliest works of feminist literature, invented many of the tropes used and reused in modern literature, and created some of the most unforgettable characters ever. It may be silly and futile to argue that the literature of Great Britain in the 1800s was more important or of higher quality than writing from different periods and parts of the world — but these 50 novels do prove that it was (for better or for worse) a very English century, and one that left a massive mark on everything that came… Read More

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The Horrifying Love Lives of Famous Authors

In the abstract, everyone would like to fall in love with a famous writer. It holds out the promise of fabulous love letters and, if one is very lucky, immortalization as the subject of a super-romantic poem. I mean, Keats’ beloved Fanny Brawne really lucked out, I think, with “Bright star, bright star / would I were as steadfast as thou art.” I would be thrilled if someone would write that about me. … Read More

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25 Big Novels That Are Worth Your Time

What we love about big novels is that you have to get really comfortable with them. A big page count usually equals a big chunk of time, meaning you need to be a serious reader without a fear of commitment, but with books like Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Sergio de la Pava’s A Naked Singularity receiving heaps of praise and major literary awards in 2013, there is a very great chance that this year will probably see its share of great novels that tip the scales at over 500 pages. With that, we offer you this list of epic page turners that you may have missed, skipped, or just couldn’t finish the first time, because we believe that bigger can certainly be better, and these books are proof of… Read More

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Gorgeous Vintage Illustrations of Dickens Novels in Full Color

Dickens was a novelist so popular in his own time that it is nearly impossible to think of a modern analogue today. (Maybe Stephen King.) At the height of his powers, it’s sometimes written, perhaps one in ten Britons had read his novels. One of his most popular books then — though nowadays it falls behind Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two CitiesGreat Expectations, and any number of others in name recognition — was The Old Curiosity Shop. Dickens’ novels were, as you’ve probably heard before, been published as serials, and when The Old Curiosity Shop was in progress, the fate of its tragic heroine, Little Nell, convulsed both sides of the Atlantic. People wrote Dickens letters demanding that he let her survive. (Spoiler: he didn’t listen to them.) … Read More

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Great Literary Christmas Tales That Aren’t ‘A Christmas Carol’

Charles Dickens has pretty much dominated the Christmas story game for the last 170 years as of this week, since that’s when his famous novella A Christmas Carol was released. To break that down: that’s 170 years of knowing you’re going to hear the story of Bob Crachet, Tiny Tim, the ghost of Jacob Marley, and, of course, Ebenezer Scrooge around this time of year. And even though A Christmas Carol might be the best example of mixing high literature with the festive season, Dickens certainly wasn’t the only writer that could write a beautiful Christmas scene. Here are a few other classic, yet underrated, Christmas tales in literature. … Read More

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