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    Dickens’s ‘school of affliction’: learning from death in Nicholas Nickleby and The Old Curiosity Shop

    McAllister, David (2020) Dickens’s ‘school of affliction’: learning from death in Nicholas Nickleby and The Old Curiosity Shop. Victoriographies: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century Writing 10 (3), pp. 228-247. ISSN 2044-2416.

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    This essay reads death scenes in Dickens’s early novels as contributions to a wider reformist drive (evidenced in discourses of burial, urban, and sanitary reform) to clean up the nation’s ways of thinking about mortality, each of which relied upon the careful policing of sense-data surrounding corpses, graves, and deathbeds. In doing so, it seeks to expand our sense of why Dickens adopted a sentimental mode in both Nicholas Nickleby and The Old Curiosity Shop, arguing that it derived not just from a desire to provoke emotional responses in readers, but spoke to his interest in association psychology as the mechanism by which both ideas, and minds, were constructed. It thus argues for Dickens’s deathbeds scenes as sites of literary experiment: attempts to recruit narrative fiction’s affective and psychological power for the causes of aesthetic and social transformation.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication by Edinburgh University Press
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Nineteenth-Century Studies, Centre for
    Depositing User: David Mcallister
    Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2020 15:16
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:48


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