No Thoroughfares in Dickens: Impediment, Persistence, and the City

  • Jeremy Tambling
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


This chapter takes the city as a place where impediment must be overcome in its combination of ‘no thoroughfares’—that constantly repeated phrase in Dickens—that must be negotiated, and places where a person finds that they have been wandering around and getting no-where. We will explore a particular form of uncanny city wandering in which the progress, or lack of it, of the individual within the city, repeats the persistent turning, without progress, of the world and of the human psyche. The ‘Wanderings’ of Dickens’ streetwalkers are physical but also refer to ‘rambling, delirium,’ and ‘delirious fancies.’ Dickens takes the semiotic features of the city and reveals the function or dysfunction of the many signs and signalling systems that inhabit both street and mind.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor EmeritusUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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