After Dickens: Reading, Adaptation and Performance by John Glavin

By John Glavin

John Glavin bargains either a performative analyzing of Dickens the novelist and an exploration of the potential of adaptive functionality of the novels themselves. via shut examine of textual content and context Glavin uncovers a richly ambivalent, usually without notice adversarial, courting among Dickens and the theater and theatricality of his personal time, and exhibits how Dickens' novels might be visible as a kind of counter functionality. but Glavin additionally explores the performative capability in Dickens' fiction, and describes new how you can degree that fiction in emotionally robust, significantly acute variations.

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Example text

Unsurprisingly, it is everything to professionally chaste Hopkins: each man does the thing he is. Wuthering Heights is its charter. You find agamy nowhere determinative in Charlotte Bronte¨ or George Eliot, who can’t  Set up or won’t imagine unmediated happiness. But it’s all over Conan Doyle and Carroll and Kipling. Nor is it a merely a Victorian phenomenon. Agamy is key to Shaw, to Joyce, to Woolf, and – it’s too obvious to mention – to Barrie: to anyone whose ideal of happiness is a room – or a land, even a never-never land – of one’s own.

But the mimetic, as I’m defining it here, refuses the priority of any sort of origin. Carton makes a much more interesting and effective Darnay than Darnay ever could. De´classe´, arriviste Dickens always knows that origins contaminate. If you honor them you’ll only reach deadlock. Pretending opens the sole path toward presence. All the memorable Dickens characters specialize in pretending. Little Dorrit, Esther Summerson, Pip, they are all first-rate pretenders. They save themselves, and even others, by the skill with which they make believe.

It’s not simply that in life and in fiction Dickens separates from the group at every opportunity – the Inimitable Boz – but that he can’t underwrite any sort of category as normative or determinative or even helpful. This insistence on unconditioned idiosyncrasy makes him, in all of his writing, and much of his life, remarkably, even absurdly, and certainly proudly childish. He did after all proclaim the goal of life to be finding ways to ‘‘preserve ourselves from growing’’ (‘‘Where We Stopped Growing,’’ Household Words, January , ) – a goal he largely succeeded in achieving.

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