Bleak House’s Addictive Detective-Work

  • Adam Colman
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


This chapter discusses Charles Dickens’s reading on the topic of addiction along with his depiction of addictive habits. Colman shows how Dickens’s reading of Robert Macnish’s Anatomy of Drunkenness would have allowed him access to the sort of thinking about addictive consumption arrived at by Romantics such as Thomas De Quincey. Dickens’s own portrayal of addictive consumers, moreover, relates to those Romantic precedents: Dickens, like De Quincey, links addictive pursuit of possibility with repetitive, investigative orientation toward possibility. The result of such narrative-emphasis on repetitive investigation of the possible in Bleak House, this chapter shows, is an early example of the detective genre.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Colman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA

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