First published in 1984, this title examines the development of a special rhetoric in Dickens’ work, which, by using grotesque effects, challenged the complacency of his middle-class Victorian readers. The study begins by exploring definitions of the grotesque and moves on to look at three key aspects that particularly impacted on Dickens’ imagination: popular theatre (especially pantomime), caricature, and the tradition of the Gothic novel. Michael Hollington traces the development of Dickens’ application of the grotesque from his early work to his late novels, showing how its use becomes more subtle. Hollington’s title greatly enhances our appreciation of Dickens’ technique, showing the skill with which he used the grotesque to undermine stereotyped responses and encourage his readership to challenge their context.
Table of Contents
Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. The Grotesque Tradition, Ancient and Modern 2. The Romance of Real Life: Sketches by Boz and Pickwick Papers 3. ‘They always Die when I’m at Meals’: Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby 4. The Old Curiosity Shop and The New Curiosity Shop 5. The Grotesque in History: Barnaby Rudge and A Tale of Two Cities 6. The Grotesque in America: American Notes and Martin Chuzzlewit 7. The New Picturesque: Pictures from Italy and Little Dorrit 8. Narrative Perspective and the Grotesque: Master Humphrey’s Clock, The Christmas Books and The Uncommercial Traveller 9. The Child’s Perception of the Grotesque: Dombey and Son and David Copperfield 10. Ironic Infernos: Bleak House, Hard Times and Ruskin’s Conception of the Grotesque 11. The Grotesque and Tragicomedy: Great Expectations 12. Opium and the Grotesque: Our Mutual Friend and Edwin Drood; Bibliography; Index of Names; Index of Concepts and Themes