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David Copperfield

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DAVID COPPERFIELD. This novel peered in 20 monthly numbers, beginning in May 1849 and ending in November 1850. After• finishing the novel, Dickens remarked that he liked it the best of all his books. His fondness, for this child of his fancy, as he called it, was. partly due to the fact that the novel was remi niscent of his own early life. Not raphy exactly, the novel rather runs on corre spondencies between the careers of Dickens and David Copperfield. D. C. is C. D. reversed. (David Copperfield' is the story of a young man, who by his industry and talents, rises out of the lower middle class— the pro letariat almost — into literary fame. He passes through a cruel and degraded childhood, being compelled at one time to earn his living by pasting labels on bottles in a wine-shop with urchins like Mick Walker, and Mealy Potatoes, and in the occupation he nearly starves to death. He is by his great-aunt, Betsy Trot wood, who puts him to school, where he displays unusual abilities; he studies law, learns, stenog raphy and becomes an expert reporter in the House of Commons; he writes books and there by gains a name. Throughout his career he associates with all sorts and conditions of men, from gentlemen down to rascals, some of whom, like Uriah Heep, find their way into. jails. He marries the child wife Dora dies, and he becomes, supremely happy in the union with the. mature Agnes. Everywhere 'David Copperfield) is a skilful mixture of fact and fiction. Dickens drew upon himself and a score of others for personal .traits out of which his imagination created characters, rare and new Quite apart from autobiography, many readers have regarded .Copperfield) as Dickens's best novel. ((Dickens never says his, biographer, use high in reputation as at the completion of The popularity it obtained. at the outset increased to a degree not approached by any previous book except (Pickwick. )D The novel was admired by Bulwer Lytton and Thackeray, and praised by Matthew Arnold, who rarely condescended' to notice fiction. ((What treasures of gaiety, life, are in that book! What alertness and re sources! What a soul of good-nature and kind ness governing the whole II These were Arnold's words. In my opinion, 'David Copper

field' contains no character quite equal to Mr. Pickwick, Sam Weller or Dick Swiveiler, nor does it display the grotesque fancy of 'Great Expectations,' or the wonderful intellectual grasp of 'Bleak House.' To know Dickens it is necessary to read all that he ever wrote. But as a work of art 'David Copperfield' is Dickens's masterpiece. It contains little or no melodrama, little or no exaggerated pathos; farce and caricature are held in restraint to the point where they become comedy; incident naturally rises out of character, and character naturally rises out of incident. The most re markable creation, said to be a remote likeness of Dickens's own father, is Mr. Micawber, the happy impecunious gentleman, whose debts do not trouble him so long as he can keep out of jail; who always eats, drinks, orates and sleeps in perfect contentment, certain that something will turn up. He is not dazed by the prospect of emigrating to Australia, where something does actually turn up, and he finds ample scope for his rhetoric in a colonial newspaper.

It is a decided drop from Micawber to Cop perfield. The story of his boyhood is excellent, but Copperfield really develops into a cad with out the author's knowing it. Nor are Dora and Agnes girls who now greatly interest readers. But there is the eccentric Betsey Trot wood who treats Mr. Dick the lunatic as if he were sane and protects David against Mr. Murdstone. She is admirably conceived and developed. And there are Peggotty, nurse and servant, with cheeks and arms so red that the birds might peck them in preference to apples, and her brother the fisherman and Barlcis who was willin? and finally won her. In depicting the Peggotty group of characters Dickens ren dered the mingled humor and pathos and heroism of humble life in a surprising manner. And was there ever elsewhere an undertaker like Mr. Omer? Streaks of pain and crime run through the book, but scoundrels like Steerforth and Uriah Heep are somehow forgotten for the fun. 'David Copperfield,) it has been ob served, "is the perfection of English