The Oxford Edition of Charles Dickens: Sketches by Boz

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Sketches by Boz, the first volume of the new Oxford Dickens, was also the title of Dickens's first book. It is a collection of sixty pieces, mostly humorous although there is nothing funny about 'A Visit to Newgate', which first appeared as contributions to magazines and newspapers in the mid 1830s. They are distinguished by his sharp and often satirical observation of social situations and London characters; but, with one exception, they are works of fiction. Fourteen can be described as short stories, but most are sketches presented to us as reportage. They show why Dickens was recognised as a brilliant new talent from the outset of his career.

In the absence of any manuscripts, the text of each piece (with one exception) is based upon the first published version. They offer Dickens as he appeared to his very first readers in the mid 1830s, and as he has not been seen since. Dickens edited later editions, cutting contemporary references, oaths and sexual innuendo. The consequence of reading Dickens as he was is startling, for these pieces both offer a direct reflection of the social scene in London of the period, and have a raciness which Dickens excised from later printings. This work rediscovers the young Dickens.

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Oxford University Press
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