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« Ah, those (American) Victorian prudes | Main | The literary historian's necessary fiction »

May 12, 2009


Russell Potter

A very incisive post -- you've put your finger on a key reason why the impulse to use well-known writers as characters in historical fiction so often falls terribly flat. Dickens has had more than his share of fictional appearances, and I can't think of many that are even readable, let alone compelling, as his presence is always surrounded by trumpets and winks, and some long-lost secret of his inspiration revealed (Dan Simmon's latest, Drood, is a new and newly awful example). But there have been a few instances where a nuanced, well-researched, but alive and lively Dickens has been subtly re-invoked; I'd suggest Richard Flanagan's new novel, Wanting (reviewed on my blog a couple of weeks ago at It's perhaps because Flanagan doesn't focus on Dickens's writing per se that he manages an effective and understated portrait, I feel.

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