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The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London (2012)

de Judith Flanders

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5571344,118 (4.06)20
The nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented change, and nowhere was this more apparent than London. In only a few decades, the capital grew from a compact Regency town into a sprawling metropolis of 6.5 million inhabitants, the largest city the world had ever seen. Technology-railways, street-lighting, and sewers-transformed both the city and the experience of city-living, as London expanded in every direction. Now Judith Flanders, one of Britain's foremost social historians, explores the world portrayed so vividly in Dickens' novels, showing life on the streets of London in colorful, fascinating detail. From the moment Charles Dickens, the century's best-loved English novelist and London's greatest observer, arrived in the city in 1822, he obsessively walked its streets, recording its pleasures, curiosities, and cruelties. Now, with him, Flanders leads us through the markets, transport systems, sewers, rivers, slums, alleys, cemeteries, gin palaces, chop-houses, and entertainment emporia of Dickens' London, to reveal the Victorian capital in all its variety, vibrancy, and squalor.… (mais)
  1. 10
    The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton de Kathryn Hughes (MarthaJeanne)
    MarthaJeanne: Both books describe Britain and London in the same period, but the emphasis is very different. Which you prefer will probably depend on whether you'd rather curl up with a book by Charles Dickens or Mrs. Beeton.
  2. 00
    Vagabonds de Oskar Jensen (nessreader)
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A fascinating history of many elements of daily life during Dickens' lifetime (from roughly 1812-1870, which Flanders acknowledges is not completely within the Victorian era). Covering everything from streets to commutes to evening entertainments, Flanders' work is dense but highly readable. Filled with fascinating small insights into what existing in London was like during the time period, the book is an excellent read for history buffs. While Dickens' lifetime is used as the framing device and Flanders highlights many elements of his novels that are similar to (or divergent from) her findings in the historical record, it is not necessary to be a Dickens fan to enjoy the work. ( )
  MickyFine | Feb 1, 2022 |
This was not a page turner, but it wasn't dry as dust either, and was very, very informative. I think it would be an invaluable resource for anyone writing a book set in London during this time period, but is also interesting just for anyone curious about life in that time and place. Lots of history books focus on the nobility and political leaders and such, and this book does have some information about them too, but this is primarily about the poor and working class. Everyday people were the majority of society but were frequently ignored, even in their own time, and rarely given the opportunity to be noted and recorded for posterity. Dickens had personally experienced both poverty and a certain degree of wealth, so I think he had a better understanding and more empathy for the poor than the average person of note. He also had a deep curiosity and keen observation of others. Combined with his tendency to wander the streets at all hours, and be frequently published, he was uniquely positioned to be a particularly good witness and recorder of life in his city. The only Dickens I've read is A Christmas Carol, so I did not get the references made to his other characters, but they still had some value as examples of the history they were discussing and how he incorporated it into his writing. ( )
  JorgeousJotts | Dec 3, 2021 |
Holy sh*t.
Judith Flanders cured me of any desire to live in 1800s London. ( )
  FinallyJones | Nov 17, 2021 |
Actual Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Review: I really enjoyed the idea of this book and how Judith Flanders approached it. It felt a little dry to me, though, and her writing style didn’t keep me as immersed in the book as I hoped I’d be.And the structure of the book seemed a little wonky to me as well. The topic was an enjoyable read, it’s just that this book didn’t do it for me. ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
This is a fascinating overview of what life was like in London during Dicken's lifetime/writing period. The author has done extensive research and refers to Dicken's work as a tie-in. I have not read most of Dicken's writing, yet had no problem appreciating this book. The information focuses on the working and working poor so we see how hard it was just to make enough money to stay fed and sheltered. The lives of the street workers (food vendors etc) were horrific, and yet they were not the worst off...

The author divides book into sections and then chapters. The Sections are labelled THE CITY WAKES, STAYING ALIVE, ENJOYING LIFE, and SLEEPING AND AWAKE. The information is detailed but never dull! It really made me appreciate the little things like indoor plumbing and an oven, not to mention a bed! There is humour here as well (believe it or not!). There are some reproduced historical illustrations and maps, my copy was an ARC and the quality of the illustrations was quite poor, and I really wish there had been more of them. The maps really helped, and it was fun reading about parts of London that I know are now so expensive, which were huge slums in Dicken's time!

I read this book in small increments, 2-3 chapters a day, after that I found the facts all started to blur together, but that may just be my tolerance level for this type of reading material!

Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for the early copy of this book! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
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The nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented change, and nowhere was this more apparent than London. In only a few decades, the capital grew from a compact Regency town into a sprawling metropolis of 6.5 million inhabitants, the largest city the world had ever seen. Technology-railways, street-lighting, and sewers-transformed both the city and the experience of city-living, as London expanded in every direction. Now Judith Flanders, one of Britain's foremost social historians, explores the world portrayed so vividly in Dickens' novels, showing life on the streets of London in colorful, fascinating detail. From the moment Charles Dickens, the century's best-loved English novelist and London's greatest observer, arrived in the city in 1822, he obsessively walked its streets, recording its pleasures, curiosities, and cruelties. Now, with him, Flanders leads us through the markets, transport systems, sewers, rivers, slums, alleys, cemeteries, gin palaces, chop-houses, and entertainment emporia of Dickens' London, to reveal the Victorian capital in all its variety, vibrancy, and squalor.

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