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Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius

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Notes From Black Reads

Nick Hornby! Charles Dickens! Prince! Prince? Nick Hornby’s Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius is the dinner party of your dreams. Hornby’s book of essays makes such splendid introductions between Dickens and Prince that we can’t wait to be invited to the table. Goose quill pen on the right, guitar on the left. Cheers!

“An ardent fan letter from Hornby that makes you want to re-read Great Expectations while listening to Sign o’ the Times.” —Vogue

From the bestselling author of Just Like You, High Fidelity, and Fever Pitch, a short, warm, and entertaining book about art, creativity, and the unlikely similarities between Victorian novelist Charles Dickens and modern American rock star Prince


Every so often, a pairing comes along that seems completely unlikely—until it’s not. Peanut butter and jelly, Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un, ducks and puppies, and now: Dickens and Prince.

Equipped with a fan’s admiration and his trademark humor and wit, Nick Hornby invites us into his latest obsession: the cosmic link between two unlikely artists, geniuses in their own rights, spanning race, class, and centuries—each of whom electrified their different disciplines and whose legacy resounded far beyond their own time.

When Prince’s 1987 record Sign o’ the Times was rereleased in 2020, the iconic album now came with dozens of songs that weren’t on the original— Prince was endlessly prolific, recording 102 songs in 1986 alone. In awe, Hornby began to wonder, Who else ever produced this much? Who else ever worked that way? He soon found his answer in Victorian novelist and social critic Charles Dickens, who died more than a hundred years before Prince began making music.

Examining the two artists’ personal tragedies, social statuses, boundless productivity, and other parallels, both humorous and haunting, Hornby shows how these two unlikely men from different centuries “lit up the world.” In the process, he creates a lively, stimulating rumination on the creativity, flamboyance, discipline, and soul it takes to produce great art.

ISBN-13: 9780593541821

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: 11-15-2022

Pages: 192

Product Dimensions: 4.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Nick Hornby is the author of seven bestselling novels, including High Fidelity, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down, as well as several works of nonfiction. Many of his books have been turned into successful films and TV series. He has been Oscar nominated twice, for his screenplays of An Education and Brooklyn. His ten-part short-form TV series State of the Union, directed by Stephen Frears, was recently broadcast by Sundance TV and the BBC and won three Emmy Awards. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xiii

Introduction 1

Childhood 17

Their Twenties 29

The Movies 55

The Working Life 71

The Business 93

Women 117

The End 135

Acknowledgments 163

Select Bibliography 165

Permissions 167

Credits 169