‘Our Mutual City:’ The Posterity of the Dickensian Urbanscape
Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens’ last-completed novel, is a farewell to the writer’s urban obsession. The omnipresence of a blighted urban landscape testifying to an entropic society permeates Dickens’ fiction. Dust heaps are emblematic of the morbid vacancy that Dickens observed in London’s environment towards the end of his life. However, conversely, dust heaps, through the mythic figure of the sphinx, also make for the possibility of resurrection. Chapter 9 paves the way for Modernism and has been appropriated in postcolonial fiction too. Monologues in T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland echo some of the images of urban disintegration in Dickens’ novel. In The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie parodies the superficiality and emptiness of the London of Our Mutual Friend by turning vacuity into slapstick Indian vaudeville.