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RECENT DICKENS STUDIES

  • Frederick R. Karl

Extract

THE CRITICAL AND SCHOLARLY attention to Charles Dickens and his body of work in the last few years is quite varied, ranging from detailed critical analysis of singular aspects of his work to broader studies of his role as commentator and critic in Victorian England. Dickens scholarship, which once might have led to articles in PMLA, has morphed into historical-critical studies using deconstruction, Lacanian analysis, the new historicism, and other disciplines. One omission, surprisingly, in this latest batch is the passing over of Dickens's flaws as a novelist and thinker – so that in turning him into an iconic figure critics have often glossed over his shakiness of structure, his contradictory ideas, and his failure to achieve a consistent fictional ideology. I emphasize a “fictional” ideology, since we have no reason to demand that a novelist sustain any consistent social or political agenda. A fictional one becomes necessary in order for the novelist to uphold his or her own voice, personal tone, that meeting of the reader's expectations with the writer's sense of order (or disorder).

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RECENT DICKENS STUDIES

  • Frederick R. Karl

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