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Charles Dickens and his Performing Selves

  • Malcolm Andrews

Abstract

Charles Dickens was both novelist and actor. This combination helped to form the distinctive character of his fiction and also to make him an anomalous presence in the culture of middle-class Victorian England. Within that culture these two activities were seen as, in many ways, incompatible careers. The one private and creative; the other public and interpretative. The one a gentlemanly intellectual employment; the other exhibitionist role-playing in a bohemian subculture. I want to consider the implications of Dickens’s histrionic gifts for the special character of his art as a writer and public reader. And I want to examine this under two headings: the first is the polyphonic voice that is exercised in his fiction and in his reading performances, and the second (related to this) has to do with attitudes within Victorian culture towards the constitution of the self.

Keywords

Public Reading Hierarchical Rank Speech Style Private Theatrical Public Exhibition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    John Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens (London: Chapman and Hall, 1872–4) II, 181.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Raymond Chapman, Forms of Speech in Victorian Fiction (Harlow: Longman, 1994) especially Chapter 3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    M. Bakhtin, ‘Discourse in the Novel’, trans. Michael Holquist and Caryl Emerson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981): repr. in P.Rice and P.Waugh, eds, Modern Literary Theory: A Reader (London: Edward Arnold, 1989) 200.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Nina Auerbach, Private Theatricals: The Lives of the Victorians (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990) 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 6.
    M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. H. Islowsky (Indiana University Press, 1984) 10.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    R.L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Wordsworth Classics, Hertfordshire, 1993) 42.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, in Oscar Wilde, Plays, Prose Writings & Poems (London: Dent, 1960) 187.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Miriam Bailin, The Sickroom in Victorian Fiction (Cambridge University Press, 1994) Chapter 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 10.
    Anon., The Nation (New York) (12 December 1867) 482.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm Andrews

There are no affiliations available

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