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Charles Dickens at 200

Charles Dickens reflects on David Copperfield

David Copperfield title page

The final installment of a serialized novel, such as David Copperfield, contained, at the end, a general title page, table of contents, errata (typographical errors to be corrected), and the author's preface. These pages were included to be placed at the beginning of the book when the monthly installments were taken apart and rebound in one volume. In his Preface for David Copperfield, Dickens reveals his thoughts on the completion of the story, written over a period of two years:

I do not find it easy to get sufficiently far away from this Book, in the first sensations of having finished it, to refer to it with ... composure ... My interest in it, is so recent and strong; and my mind is so divided between pleasure and regret -- pleasure in the achievement of a long design, regret in the separation from many companions -- that I am in danger of wearying the reader whom I love, with personal confidences, and private emotions.

Besides which, all that I could say of the Story, to any purpose, I have endeavoured to say in it. ...

As Dickens concluded one book, he anticipated the next, which he probably had starting writing already, such were the demands of his readers and his publishers. His Preface ends:

Instead of looking back, therefore, I will look forward. I cannot close this Volume more agreeably to myself, than with a hopeful glance towards the time when I shall again put forth my two green leaves [the paper wrappers] once a month, and with a faithful remembrance of the genial sun and showers that have fallen on these leaves of David Copperfield, and made me happy.

 

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