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By Mohandas K. Gandhi, Clifford Manshardt

The Humanist Library, V14.

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Egg was not the only Academy artist in the Dickens circle: the Irish popular historical and portrait painter Daniel Maclise (1807–70) was an intimate friend. He had recently illustrated several of Dickens’s Christmas books and painted the well-known ‘Nickleby’ portrait of the glamorous, youthful young author back in 1839. At that time Dickens had also known Wilkie’s godfather, David Wilkie, well and commissioned a picture from William Collins. The young Collins was naturally delighted to take on the part of valet to Dickens in the starring role in Bulwer’s comedy, and the two thus met for the first time on 12 March 1851 at a reading of the play in the house of the journalist and critic John Forster, one of Dickens’s closest friends and confidants.

With the novice Collins, though, the romantic treatment can be very heavy-handed. The plotting is cumbersome and thin, and frequent descriptive passages in laboriously Latinate prose are needed to stretch the narrative out to the length then required of a three-volume novel. The following evocation of the advancing army of Goths from the opening chapter is a typical example with its obsessive triadic structures: No brightness gleamed from their armour; no banners waved over their heads; no music sounded among their ranks.

Such reissues, both of books still in copyright from the original or another publisher, and those already out of copyright, tended to be packaged and marketed as a series of works by an individual author or in a branded ‘library’. Unlike the first multi-volume edition, they tended to conclude with a catalogue of ‘announcements’ advertising the publisher’s wares in the same or other series. Though inexpensive novels out of copyright had begun to appear rather earlier from firms such as Whittingham’s, the then partners Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley were probably the first established publishers to begin reissuing their own successful three-decker novels, in single volumes at six shillings in a ‘Standard Novels’ series from 1831.

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The Mahatma and the Missionary: Selected Writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi by Mohandas K. Gandhi, Clifford Manshardt


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