" Like so many fond parents I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child," wrote Charles Dickens. "And his name is David Copperfield." Of all of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield most closely reflects the events of his own life. The story of an abandoned waif who discovers life and love in an indifferent world, this classic tale of childhood is populated with a cast of eccentrics, innocents, and villains who number among the author's greatest creations. "David Copperfield is filled with characters of the most astonishing variety, vividness, and originality," noted Somerset Maugham. "They are not realistic and yet they abound with life. There never were such people as the Micawbers, Pegotty and Barkis, Traddles, Betsey Trotwood and Mr. Dick, Uriah Heep and his mother. They are fantastic inventions of Dickens's exultant imagination, but they have so much vigor, they are so consistent, they are presented with so much conviction, that you believe in them. They are extravagant, but not unreal, and when you have once to know them you can never quite forget them." T. S. Eliot agreed: "Dickens excelled in character; in the creation of characters of greater intensity than human beings." And Virginia Woolf concluded: "In David Copperfield, though char- acters swarm and life flows into every creek and cranny, some common feelings—youth, gaiety, hope—envelops the tumult, brings the scattered parts together, and invests the most perfect of all the Dickens novels with an atmosphere of beauty."
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foun- dation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.