In David Copperfield (1849-50), autobiography has been subdued into art with remarkable skill. The richness, flexibility, and strength of this novel give it a special place among Dickens' work. Here self-pity is sublimated into ironic observation, and as the novel follows the fortunes of its hero from idyllic infancy through the powerfully drawn Murdstone period to his aunt Trotwood's protection and thence on to manhood and love with their consequences in emotion and action, the sense of life, individual and social, operating with all its complexity and inevitability on the hero and his friends, emerges persuasively.
There are the inevitable Dickens sentimentalities-the fate of Little Em'ly, David's relationship with Dora-but they pale beside the strength and vitality of the whole. There is the clash of different ways of life; different strata of society each with its own ideals of gentility and worth come into conflict with each other, and in the process Dickens explores once again the relationship between convention and reality, between public and private standards. Read Complete
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