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80 Year Old Dickens Rift is Lifted as Banned Book Returns to Library

Author: Portsmouth City Council Published: 21st October 2011 13:59

A book that was banned from Portsmouth libraries in 1928 has made a welcome return.

Portsmouth is a proud city, and loyal to its residents, so when author Carl Roberts spoke less than favourably about Charles Dickens in "This Side Idolatry", the library promptly pulled it from bookshelves.

It's taken over 80 years, but now Portsmouth Central Library has reinstated the book which it banned in 1928.

The book was a scandal when published. The Sunday Times reviewing the novel said: "The author of the novel, Carl Roberts, has made out that Charles Dickens was a hypocrite, philanderer, selfish, an egoist, vulgar, morose, and avaricious, caricaturing his friends in his books behind their backs.

"Dickens in Roberts' novel is represented as unscrupulous in his dealings with his publishers, and was always prepared to treat promises and engagements lightly, and callously jested over the death of the artist who illustrated "Pickwick Papers."

Although Carl Roberts' book is not a biography, but a novel, the author was keen to dispel the myth surrounding Dickens.

Sensitive to protecting the legacy of its famous son, Portsmouth library banned the book.

Dom Kippin literature officer said: "We've decided it's time to let bygones be bygones.

"The library was acting in good faith at the time, protecting the legacy of Dickens, but we think it's important to have freedom of expression and debate. As Dickens himself would agree I'm sure.

"February 2012 is his 200th birthday and we'll be celebrating his life and work throughout the year, so it seemed an appropriate time to add another book to the fine collection of work that the library currently holds.

"Dickens's literary legacy is strongly established and this book merely adds to the rich tapestry of ideas and opinions that make him one of the English language's greatest writers."


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