'No words can express the secret agony of my soul'. Dickens's tantalising hint alluding to his time at Warren's Blacking Factory remains a gnomic statement until Forster's biography after Dickens's death. Such a revelation partly explains the dominance of biography in early Dickens criticism; Dickens's own childhood was understood to provide the material for his writing, particularly his representation of the child and childhood. Yet childhood in Dickens continues to generate a significant level of critical interest. This volume of essays traces the shifting importance given to childhood in Dickens criticism. The essays consider a range of subjects such as the Romantic child, the child and the family, and the child as a vehicle for social criticism, as well as current issues such as empire, race and difference, and death. Written by leading researchers and educators, this selection of previously published articles and book chapters is representative of key developments in this field. Given the perennial importance of the child in Dickens this volume is an indispensable reference work for Dickens specialists and aficionados alike.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Part I Biography: Early years: London,1822-27, Michael Slater. Part II The Romantic Child in Victorian Times: The 'cult of sensibility' and the 'romantic child', Peter Coveney; Introductory: Dickens, romantic psychology and 'the experience of modernity', Dirk den Hartog; Ambivalence and contradictions: the child in Victorian fiction, Jacqueline P. Banerjee; Dickens, David and Pip, Jerome Hamilton Buckley; The savage, the child and the caves of ignorance, Malcolm Andrews; 'Received, a blank child': John Brownlow, Charles Dickens and the London Foundling Hospital - archives and fictions, Jenny Bourne Taylor. Part III Childhood and the Family: The uncanny daughter: Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and the progress of Little Nell, Hilary M. Schor; Fractured families in the early novels: Oliver Twist and Dombey and Son, Catherine Waters; Reconfiguring the domestic: bachelor Dads, Holly Furneaux; Nation and generation in A Tale of Two Cities, Albert D. Hutter; From blood to law: the embarrassments of family in Dickens, Helena Michie. Part IV The Child, Empire and Difference: Suppressing narratives: childhood and empire in The Uncommercial Traveller and Great Expectations, Grahame Smith; Children of empire: Victorian imperialism and sexual politics in Dickens and Kipling, Deirdre David; Dickens and cannibalism: the unpardonable sin, Harry Stone; Heredity, class and race, Goldie Morgentaler; Girls underground, boys overseas: some graveyard vignettes, Catherine Robson; English cannibalism: Dickens after 1859, James E. Marlow; The Bluebeard barometer: Charles Dickens and Captain Murderer, Shuli Barzilai; Popular orphan adventure narratives, Laura Peters. Part V The Child as a Theoretical Vehicle: Dickensian deformed children and the Hegelian sublime, Jonathan Loesberg; Spirit and the allegorical child: Little Nell's mortal aesthetic, John Bowen; Name index.
Laura Peters is Principal Lecturer, Department of English and Creative Writing, University of Roehampton, UK