Charles Dickens Archive

On the Enduring Appeal of the Bildungsroman

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Though genre forms and conventions have changed rapidly throughout the short history of the novel, the popularity of one subspecies has endured: the bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel.

The End

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My Twitter timeline is big on one meme these days: me then, me now. Sometimes it’s “me in 2006, me in 2016,” but mostly it’s “me at the beginning of 2016, me at the end.”

The Weird Nineteenth Century

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The reputation of the nineteenth century novel tends to precede its reading. By this I mean: few readers come to first contact with the likes of JANE EYRE, MIDDLEMARCH, or TESS without some established prejudice for or against the genre, usually in the milieu of a middle or high

Orphaned and Adopted Characters Are More Than “Convenient”

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Dear non-orphaned and/or adopted authors, The orphaned and adopted would appreciate your consideration the next time you take away a character's family just because it's interesting. Sincerely, an adoptee.

Literary Blueprints: The Orphan

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  In the wide realm of literature, having parents is a convenience that escapes many characters. The Orphan is one of the most prominent characters in literature, in part because the absence of parental figures automatically fuels so many possible motivations. Origin Story: Unlike some blueprints, which can be

Do-Overs: A Little Serial to Tide You Over

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Last year’s wildly popular podcast, Serial, will be back this fall with a new case. Looking for something to fill the time while you wait? Why not check out some of the original serials—novels that were doled out in dribs and drabs. Serial follows in a long tradition of

A Knack for Names

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I once read (though the source is now lost to me) that the names of the characters in a novel do the work of telling the reader what world he’s in. Musicality, characterization, hints at a character’s gender, ethnicity, and social status—all of these are important in a name.

The Serial Itch

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If you’re like me, then you’ve been in a funk since Serial ended. The holidays came and went. The new year began. You muddled through it all with a sort of ennui. The anticipation that transformed Thursday into the highpoint of the week was gone. Of course, you could

Walking to Write

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It should be no surprise that walking relieves stress and anxiety and increases creativity, but now a recent study at Stanford University has found that walking, even for just ten minutes, increases creativity by sixty percent. (Apparently, there was no difference between walking outside and walking on a treadmill in

The Furious Finish: On Deadlines

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It’s 1979 and the Mad Men-esque execs were in a cab, on the way to present a corporate identity theme to the bigwigs at GE. The current version was pretty clunky and they knew it: We make the things that make life good.” Their agency teams had spent weeks