Discourses of Class, Race and Colonialism in the Works of Charles Dickens
Author: Grace Moore
Category: Literary Criticism
Dickens and Empire offers a reevaluation of Charles Dickens's imaginative engagement with the British Empire throughout his career. Employing postcolonial theory alongside readings of Dickens's novels, journalism and personal correspondence, it explores his engagement with Britain's imperial holdings as imaginative spaces onto which he offloaded a number of pressing domestic and personal problems, thus creating an entangled discourse between race and class. Drawing upon a wealth of primary material, it offers a radical reassessment of the writer's stance on racial matters. In the past Dickens has been dismissed as a dogged and sustained racist from the 1850s until the end of his life; but here author Grace Moore reappraises The Noble Savage, previously regarded as a racist tract. Examining it side by side with a series of articles by Lord Denman in The Chronicle, which condemned the staunch abolitionist Dickens as a supporter of slavery, Moore reveals that the tract is actually an ironical riposte. This finding facilitates a review and reassessment of Dickens's controversial outbursts during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, and demonstrates that his views on racial matters were a good deal more complex than previous critics have suggested. Moore's analysis of a number of pre- and post-Mutiny articles calling for reform in India shows that Dickens, as their publisher, would at least have been aware of the grievances of the Indian people, and his journal's sympathy toward them is at odds with his vitriolic responses to the insurrection. This first sustained analysis of Dickens and his often problematic relationship to the British Empire provides fresh readings of a number of Dickens texts, in particular A Tale of Two Cities. The work also presents a more complicated but balanced view of one of the most famous figures in Victorian literature.
First published in 1985. Dickens was a vigorous champion of the right of all men and women to carefree amusements and dedicated himself to the creation of imaginative pleasure. This book represents the first extended study of this vital aspect of Dickens’ life and work, exploring how he channelled his love of entertainment into his artistry. This study offers a challenging reassessment of Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and Hard Times. It shows the importance of entertainment to Dickens’ journalism and presents an illuminating perspective on the public readings which dominated the last twelve years of his life. This book will be of interest to students of literature.
When three of Britain’s best-loved and best-selling authors each publish at least two novels with a historical rebellion theme, there might be an interesting pattern worth examining. This is a long overdue study of the previously overlooked rebellion novel genre, with a close look at the works of Sir Walter Scott (Waverly and Rob Roy), Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities and Barnaby Rudge), and Robert Louis Stevenson (Kidnapped and The Young Chevalier). The linguistic and structural formulas that these novels share are presented, along with a comparative study of how these authors individualized the genre to adjust it to their needs. Scott, Dickens and Stevenson were led to the rebellion genre by direct radical interests. They used the tools of political literary propaganda to assist the poor, disenfranchised and peripheral people, with whom they identified and hoped to see free from oppression and poverty.