Dickens & Prince by Nick Hornby: From Hard Times to Sign o ‘the Times

In this extensive essay, Nick Hornby reveals that he has photographs of both Charles Dickens and the Crown Prince on the wall of his office. “They will be there for as long as I need them, this will be for the rest of my life,” he wrote. Among many other attributes, he was most attracted to their creative results. “No one has ever worked harder than these two, or at a higher standard, while connecting with so many people over the long term.”

i.e. both Victorian novelist Dickens and soul/funk giant Prince Rogers Nelson were Hornby’s guide, he had to think about the similarities in their lives and work. On the surface, this should be a short enough list. When the bedmates were gone, Dickens and Prince wouldn’t think about it right away. The work, originally written in 19th-century England, often deals with class, ill-will, exploitation and social corruption. Later, in an expanded catalog, songs named Gett Off and Jack U Off.

However, when Hornby purchased a commemorative box set of Prince’s groundbreaking 1987 album Sign o ‘the Times, he realized how vast that same category was: the box set alone contained 63 unreleased songs from that point on. Only then did Hornby understand the incredible output of the Minneapolis star, and concluded that like Dickens, Prince worked at a fast pace, without switches, and on a higher plane than most contemporaries.

Like many men his age, Hornby came to Dickens as a relatively late fan. “I did not read Dickens until I was in college, and I am grateful for the appeal of the mid-1970s curriculum,” he wrote. “If I were forced to study him in school, his greatness would elude me, for it eluded so many people I met who opposed him, almost always because of him. pressed down the throat in adolescence.”


For both Charles Dickens and Prince, women were a “weak spot”.

What can we learn from watching two artists with more talent than them, ask Hornby, set out his stall. “What did they do with it? Does it damage them in some way, technically, professionally? Is there a way to know where it came from? Does it kill them? “

Scratching the surface, he realized that the similarities were enormous. For both, women are a “weakness”: “The Prince has dated one or two thousand of the sexiest women in the world and married two of them,” Hornby wrote. “Dickens eventually separated from Catherine, his wife of 22 years and mother of 10 children, after meeting 18-year-old Nelly Tiernan when he was in his 40s.”

Both also excelled in live games: Prince on high-octane stadium tours, Dickens on blockbuster American reading tours. Parental abandonment manifested itself greatly in both Dickens and Prince’s young lives, prompting Hornby to ponder whether this had any effect on their outcomes. Then he oddly but convincingly declared that Oliver Twist and Heart rain have something in common (aside from the relative youth of their creators, the two are “very much in debt to movies”). Hornby notes, despite being in the top 0.1 of their profession, both feel robbed: “Unlike a lot of artists, they’ve tried to do something about it.”

In his nonfiction, Hornby has long written about music and culture with the fervor and authority of a true fan. Even when focusing on the specifics of Dickens and Prince, he never says anything interesting about creativity and culture in general.

When starting Dickens & Princehe mentions a series of creative types that he greatly admires, called My People (among them Mavis Staples, Jerry Seinfeld, Liam Brady and Roddy Doyle).

Occasionally, he lifts the curtain himself, mentions his experiences filming with Stephen Frears, or receives an unexpected royalty for a TV series he’s written, State of the Union.

Hornby’s fluid, effortless writing style has been around for a while, but overall, it’s not a moving personal account of his fervor for both men. What? Dickens & Prince may lack Hornby’s trademark personal, chatty touch, which more than makes up for in well-researched and vivid historical accounts.

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Still, Dickens & Prince is a great book about the heart. This project could easily fall into ostentatious territory, trying to find and maintain the common thread between these two age-old cultures by any fragile link possible. However, Hornby’s central thesis remains impressively seamless. To read the intertwined stories of these two great lives is not just entertainment; It’s also quite convincing. In Dickens and Prince, Hornby sees brothers as soulmates and equals. Suffice it to say that the reader will too.


Dickens & Prince by Nick Hornby

Biography: Dickens & Prince by Nick Hornby
Viking, 112 pages, hardcover € 13.50; eBook £5.49

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/dickens-and-prince-by-nick-hornby-from-hard-times-to-sign-o-the-times-42114328.html Dickens & Prince by Nick Hornby: From Hard Times to Sign o ‘the Times

Fry Electronics Team

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