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 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Response Essay
 Monika Fludernik

 Experience, Affect, and Literary Lists
 Eva von Contzen

 Posthuman Narration as a Test Bed for Experientiality
 Marco Caracciolo

 The Curse of Realism
 Karin Kukkonen

 More than Minds
 Jonas Grethlein

 Toward the Non-Natural
 Maria Mäkelä

 Two Conceptions of Experientiality and Narrativity
 Dan Shen

 Against Nature
 Brian McHale

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Updated Up To 26/06/2018
Volume 9, Issue 2 (June 2011) : 285-95
Subdued by the Dyer’s Hand
Dickens at Work in Bleak House
David Paroissien
Rubric A: Divided Loyalties
Rubric B: Dickens



This essay examines the implications of Dickens’s statement in the preface to the one-volume edition of Bleak House (September 1853) that in the novel he “purposely dwelt upon the romantic side of familiar things.” This claim, I argue, goes to the core of Dickens’s art as a writer, an art that combines the presentation of disturbing news about the contemporary state of society with a skilful attempt to provide narrative pleasure, pleasure designed to ensure that the narrator retains his hold over readers for 67 chapters. Dickens’s achievement, I conclude, constitutes literary art of the highest order, one that instructs readers in social and ethical truths while also delighting them and holding their attention in the course of telling a compelling story.

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