Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

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David Copperfieldh

Preface to 1850 Editionh

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 the composure which this formal heading would seem to require. 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.

It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know, how sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two-years' imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world, when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever. Yet, I have nothing else to tell;d unless, indeed, I were to confess (which might be of less moment still) that no one can ever believe this Narrative, in the reading, more than I have believed it in the writing.

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 once a month,h and with a faithful remembrance of the genial sun and showers that have fallen on these leaves of David Copperfield, and made me happy.

     London, October, 1850.
X [h] David Copperfield

Writing & Reading







Only some three months after Jim began to annotate David Copperfield in 2011 he learned that he had cancer. He died in December, 2011. His notes are preserved in the current annotations. He was a brilliant, thoughtful, and comprehesive student of nineteenth-century British literature and a exceptional writer. His sense of…

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X [h] Preface to 1850 Edition

Writing & Reading

David Copperfield was published monthly, from May, 1849, to November, 1850.  As was Dickens's custom, immediately after its serial publication, the parts were consolidated into a single volume. 

The year 1850 was striking for two other autobiographical works in which memory is not just a means but an end, Wordsworth's The Prelude and Tennyson's In Memoriam.

X [d] Yet, I have nothing else to tell;

Writing & Reading

Dickens was reluctant to divulge his past except in camouflage such as his fiction afforded, but the act of doing here was fruitful for his subsequent novels, whose breadth suddenly expands. He has in more far senses than his readers then knew sent a part of himself into "the shadowy world." That he has nothing left to tell about the traumas of his early life may be technically true, yet …

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X [h] put forth my two green leaves once a month,

Writing & Reading

The covers of the monthly numbers were a jade green, hence perhaps the "two green leaves."  Each number contained 32 pp., including two illustrations, meticulously overseen by Dickens.