Dickens: The Cannibal Cannibalised
This chapter reads Gaynor Arnold’s Girl in a Blue Dress (2008) which cannibalises Charles Dickens’ biography to facilitate its discussion of topics including gender and sexuality. Arnold seeks to emulate the accomplishments of the Victorian author (communion) but she is also eager to put forward revisionist ideologies that differentiate and individuate her from her literary ancestor (identity-formation). These conflicting motivations of incorporation are manifest in what I call an ‘aggressive ambivalence’ towards Dickens, especially in his portrayal as a cannibal in the novel. Although Arnold’s use of Dickens raises certain ethical issues, the writer succeeds in simultaneously appropriating the influence of Dickens and creating her own intriguing and redemptive fictions that centre on the theme of cannibalism.
KeywordsAdaptation Biofiction Cannibalism Charles Dickens Neo-Victorian Victorian
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