Now reading: Charles Dickens by Jane Smiley

...when the novel is first published, it may seem to be a true and faithful rendering of the life of the time it is looking back to, but almost every historical novel dates very quickly and soon comes to epitomize its own period more than the period in which it is set.
On A Tale of Two Cities

This makes me wonder what the bodice-rippers that were so popular back in the 1970's and 80's will tell the readers of the future about that era?

Smiley continues a little later:

For all the research that goes into it, and for all the weight it seems to have, the historical novel is one of the most ephemeral genres and reveals most clearly an author's intellectual and imaginative limitations.
On A Tale of Two Cities

This book is more of a portrait than a biography of Dickens and only traces his life in broad sketches, instead trying to show this complex man to the modern reader, trace how his work developed and perhaps increase our understanding of what made him such a great writer.


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