Sketches by Boz

by Charles Dickens

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This is the first breakthrough collection of tales by Dickens, an important step in his career. Download Sketches By Boz, READ online FREE or buy:

This is the first breakthrough collection of small-yet-funny tales by Charles Dickens, the one that gave him the necessary strength and confidence to keep writing. As a periodical, it had been coming out in monthly installments for three years in a row (during the 1833-1836 period, of course).

A year later, the publisher rolled out a mighty book that included all the individual stories. It came with awesome illustrations by Mr. Cruikshank. Dickens wrote as much as 56 sketches that did a wonderful job of depicting the ins and outs of the life in London back in the XIX century.

Together with the brilliant illustrations, they managed to speak to the readers in a different language, one that every single person could understand, including the working class and the poor beggars. And that is why this collection became so popular.

Sketches By Boz Summary

It’s worth mentioning that the tale with the funny title – “Mr. Minns and his Cousin” – is the 1st fictional story that the now-legendary author published. In ’34, Charles wrote and published “The Boarding House” and used quite a peculiar nickname – Boz. As the writer himself told the papers later, his brother helped him pick the pen-name.

Back when they were little kids, Charles used to call his little bruv “Moses”. Next, he turned it into Boses which later grew (or, rather, was shrunk) into Boz. It was an unusual and catchy pseudonym, no doubt about that. But it was the tale(s) that really got the readers’ attention.

As mentioned above, illustrations played a vital role in Dickens’s career and, combined with his fascinating writing, they created splendid images of people, events, places, and everything else in between. The critics agree that the marvelous illustrations helped the writer become popular at the early stages of his rise to fame.

Charles Dickens And His Famous Illustrations

Later, they became something of a trademark. They were used to depict major characters/scenes in his tales/stories/novels. As for the sketches, every single one of them came with not one, but three illustrations (the third one was, naturally, for the wrapper).

Now, even though they were black-and-white, there was more than enough depth and meaning to them that one could stare at them for hours. It’s a known fact that Dickens paid a lot of attention to the illustrations and wanted them to be as accurate as humanly possible.

That’s because they were to show the readers exactly how the writer himself envisioned the city, the slums, and, of course, the heroes and the villains. The artwork was an important tool and Dickens used it to connect with his audience on a whole another level.

The master collaborated with many illustrators, but Mr. Browne, also known as “Phiz”, was his greatest partner. They worked together on numerous novels and stories; the man followed Dickens on pretty much every important step in his career.

First Publication And First Success

The very first edition of this collection was published by a gentleman named Mr. Macrone. He released it in 2 series. The first one was a 2-volume set and came out in 1836. The publisher thought it would be great for business if he released it +/- a month before Dickens’s famous novel, The Pickwick Papers, saw the light of day.

The second series was introduced to the public half-a-year-later. Fact: when the master’s popularity became international, he offered Macrone a significant amount of money and purchased the rights to the publication of the Sketches.

Charles Dickens had a pretty rough childhood and had to take care of himself at a very young age. When he was 20, the man was trying desperately to find his place in the turbulent London routine. At first, he wanted to be an actor at the local theater.

However, he has always been in love with literature – ever since he was a little boy – and knew that his destiny was to become a writer. And The Sketches were a very important step in his career, the necessary success that helped him believe in himself.

Climbing Up That Pedestal

The vast majority of the tales (or, rather, sketches, as the author himself called them) were initially published in all kinds of popular and not-so-much periodicals. Dickens was happy to sell his work to whoever was ready to pay hard cash for it. He was struggling with money, and every single sketch he wrote allowed him to keep on writing and perfecting his skills.

It wasn’t until 1839 that all of the 56 sketches came together in one big volume. Charles always wanted to create something truly epic and majestic. But, at that time, he simply couldn’t focus all of his time on one big story that nobody was interested in.

Thankfully, after The Pickwick Papers became a nation-wide hit, he was able to support himself, his family, and work on his immortal novels for as long as he wanted to. Some critics claim that a writer creates his best work only when he’s in dire circumstances.

Well, that wasn’t really the case with Dickens, even though he did have difficulties with finances during his career. In the preface to a later edition of the Sketches, Dickens admitted that most of them were extremely crude and written by an inexperienced young man. Still, he didn’t want to exclude and/or edit them because that would simply not be fair to his fans.

Sketches By Boz Themes

Even though this is just a collection of short tales, not a full-length novel, you can still feel Dickens’s loving, caring and criticizing heart and his rebellious soul. Furthermore, some of these sketches are even more gloomy and dark than his world-famous novels. Yes, they do lack the greatness of his later works; yet, even as a young man, Charles knew what he wanted to say with his art.

The themes of inequality, injustice, social immorality, the corrupt government and the horrifying laws/conditions for the hard workers have always been the driving force behind every single word Dickens wrote. He grew up watching his friends and peers struggle with it all and dreamed of the day when a regular boy from the UK slums could make a difference.

The Sketches were his first step towards developing his own style and making his voice heard. And, decades later, when the critics were calling him the greatest writer of the XIX century, his heart was still beating in sync with the hearts of the low-class English folks.

Speaking the truth and fighting the bullies was Dickens’s mission on this planet, and he passed the ultimate test with flying colors!


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