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David Copperfield or The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery is a novel by Charles Dickens, first published in 1850. Like all except five of his works, it originally appeared in serial form (published in monthly installments). Many elements within the novel follow events in Dickens’ own life, and it is probably the most autobiographical of all of his novels. In the preface to the 1867 Charles Dickens edition, he wrote, “… like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.”

The story is told almost entirely from the point of view of the first person narrator, David Copperfield himself, and was the first Dickens novel to do so.
Critically, it is considered a Bildungsroman, i.e., a novel of self-cultivation, and would be influential in the genre which included Dickens’s own Great Expectations (1861), Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, published only two years prior, Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh, H. G. Wells’s Tono-Bungay, D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Tolstoy regarded Dickens as the best of all English novelists, and considered Copperfield to be his finest work, ranking the “Tempest” chapter (chapter 55,LV – the story of Ham and the storm and the shipwreck) the standard by which the world’s great fiction should be judged. Henry James remembered hiding under a small table as a boy to hear installments read by his mother. Dostoevsky read it enthralled in a Siberian prison camp. Franz Kafka called his first book Amerika a “sheer imitation”. James Joyce paid it reverence through parody in Ulysses. Virginia Woolf, who normally had little regard for Dickens, confessed the durability of this one novel, belonging to “the memories and myths of life”. It was Freud’s favorite novel.


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