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Xavier Lachazette, Université du Maine (Le Mans, France) « An Introduction to >> PowerPoint presentation designed to accompany six 1-hour conferences for L2 students (sophomores) in the Fall of 2013 and 2014. >> The works studied in the seminars were Pictures from Italy and A Tale of Two Cities.
Xavier Lachazette, Université du Maine (Le Mans, France) An Introduction to
A) General Information On Charles Dickens A1) A few pictures A2) His production A3) His relevance today
A2) The greatest Victorian writer’s production The Pickwick Papers (1836-7) The Pickwick Papers Oliver Twist (1837-9) Oliver Twist Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9) Nicholas Nickleby The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1) The Old Curiosity Shop Barnaby Rudge (1841) Barnaby Rudge Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4) Martin Chuzzlewit Dombey and Son (1846-8) Dombey and Son David Copperfield (1849-50) David Copperfield Bleak House (1852-3) Bleak House Hard Times (1854) Hard Times Little Dorrit (1855-7) Little Dorrit A Tale of Two Cities (1859) A Tale of Two Cities Great Expectations (1860-1) Great Expectations Our Mutual Friend (1864-5) Our Mutual Friend The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870) The Mystery of Edwin Drood [Sketches by Boz (56 sketches published for the most part in 1833-36)]
A Christmas Carol (1843) (“Ebenezer Scrooge”) A Christmas Carol The Chimes (1844) The Chimes The Cricket on the Hearth (1845) The Cricket on the Hearth The Battle of Life (1846) The Battle of Life The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848) The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain A2) Dickens’s production (ctd.)
» Play: The Frozen Deep (1856) written by Wilkie Collins (collaboration) ‘Richard Wardour’ (Dickens) / ‘Frank Aldersley’ (Collins) » Journals edited by Dickens: Bentley’s Miscellany: 1836-39 (contributor) Master Humphrey’s Clock: 1840-41 (entirely) The Daily News: 1846 (edited 17 issues only) Household Words: 1850-59 (his own paper, contributor) All the Year Round: 1858-70 (his own paper, contributor; A Tale of Two Cities; edited by his son Charley until 1888; ceased altogether in 1893) A2) Dickens’s production (end)
A3) Dickens’s relevance today £10 note issued in 1992-93. Ceased to be legal tender in 2003.
A3) Dickens’s relevance today (ctd.) » Yearly Dickens festivals in the US & in England Myrtle Beach, SC (Xmas Show & Festivals)Xmas Show & Festivals Port Jefferson, NY (Dickens Festival)Dickens Festival Rochester (Kent, SE of England) festivities like readings + a parade of Dickensian charactersfestivitiesDickensian characters
Discover Britain, March 2013 A3) Dickens’s relevance today (ctd.)
Discover Britain, March 2013 A3) Dickens’s relevance today (end)
B) Dickens’s Life and Works B1) Difficult beginnings B2) First successes B3) Formative trips abroad B4) Years of success and prosperity B5) Years of personal crisis
B1) Difficult beginnings John & Elizabeth Dickens > the Marshalsea “Mr. Micawber” (in David Copperfield) “Mrs. Nickleby” (in Nicholas Nickleby) Warren’s Blacking Factory / John Forster Studied shorthand free-lance law reporter Parliamentary reporter (Mirror of Parliament) reporter for 2 papers (True Sun/Morning Chronicle) Maria Beadnell = love at first sight! Biographical information
» “I don’t remember who was there, except Dora. I have not the least idea what we had for dinner, besides Dora. My impression is, that I dined off Dora, entirely, and sent away half-a-dozen plates untouched. I sat next to her. I talked to her. She had the most delightful little voice, the gayest little laugh, the pleasantest and most fascinating little ways, that ever led a lost youth into hopeless slavery. She was rather diminutive altogether. So much the more precious, I thought.” “Chapter 26: I fall into captivity”, David Copperfield, 1849-50 B1) Difficult beginnings (ctd.)
» “Clennam's eyes no sooner fell upon the subject of his old passion than it shivered and broke to pieces. […] Flora, always tall, had grown to be very broad too, and short of breath; but that was not much. Flora, whom he had left a lily, had become a peony; but that was not much. Flora, who had seemed enchanting in all she said and thought, was diffuse and silly. That was much. Flora, who had been spoiled and artless long ago, was determined to be spoiled and artless now. That was a fatal blow. This is Flora!” “Chapter 13: Patriarchal”, Little Dorrit, 1855-57 B1) Difficult beginnings (end)
B2) First successes 1/12/1833: “A Dinner at Poplar Walk” (later, “Mr. Minns and His Cousin”) Sketches by Boz (1833-36) Penname “Boz” < from “Moses” (brother Augustus) Pickwick Papers: Robert Seymour (suicide) / H.K. Browne (“Phiz”) = illustrator Catherine Hogarth Editor of Bentley’s Miscellany (1836-39) Meets John Forster (his future biographer) Editor of Master Humphrey’s Clock (1840-41) Biographical information
B3) Formative trips abroad Canada & the US (1842) Copyright issues (in England, MP for Reading) “Ignorant of the complications of copyright politics and of the recent severe depression, he crossed the Atlantic with the naïve expectation that in this republic of his imagination elemental notions of fairness would triumph over politics and power relationships, as if America were some elegant utopia.” (Fred Kaplan, Dickens: A Biography, Johns Hopkins UP, p. 124-25) Abolition of slavery (aka “the peculiar institution”) >> A1: “Slavery is not a whit the more endurable because some hearts are to be found which can partially resist its hardening influences; nor can the indignant tide of honest wrath stand still, because in its onward course it overwhelms a few who are comparatively innocent, among a host of guilty.” (American Notes, “Chapter 16: Slavery”) Biographical information
Abolition of slavery (ctd.) >> A2: “Is it the interest of any man to steal, to game, to waste his health and mental faculties by drunkenness, to lie, forswear himself, indulge hatred, seek desperate revenge, or do murder? No. All these are roads to ruin. And why, then, do men tread them? Because such inclinations are among the vicious qualities of mankind.” (American Notes, “Chapter 16: Slavery”) >> A3: “Public opinion” = in favour of slavery no help for slaves. >> A4: “But it may be worth while to inquire how the slave-owners, and the class of society to which great numbers of them belong, defer to public opinion in their conduct, not to their slaves but to each other; how they are accustomed to restrain their passions; what their bearing is among themselves; whether they are fierce or gentle; whether their social customs be brutal, sanguinary, and violent, or bear the impress of civilisation and refinement.” (American Notes, “Chapter 16: Slavery”) Book entitled American Notes (1842, a travelogue) + novel Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44) B3) Formative trips abroad (ctd.)
Penitentiaries (Pennsylvania, “solitary confinement”) A Tale of Two Cities a.“I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers; and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow-creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body […]” B3) Formative trips abroad (ctd.)
b.“Standing at the central point, and looking down these dreary passages, the dull repose and quiet that prevails, is awful. Occasionally, there is a drowsy sound from some lone weaver’s shuttle, or shoemaker’s last, but it is stifled by the thick walls and heavy dungeon-door, and only serves to make the general stillness more profound. […] He is a man buried alive; to be dug out in the slow round of years; and in the mean time dead to everything but torturing anxieties and horrible despair. His name, and crime, and term of suffering, are unknown, even to the officer who delivers him his daily food. There is a number over his cell-door, and in a book of which the governor of the prison has one copy, and the moral instructor another: this is the index of his history.” B3) Formative trips abroad (ctd.)
» c. ‘And are [you] a better man, you think?’ ‘Well, I hope so: I’m sure I hope I may be.’ ‘And time goes pretty quickly?’ ‘Time is very long, gentlemen, within these four walls!’ He gazed about him—Heaven only knows how wearily!—as he said these words; and in the act of doing so, fell into a strange stare as if he had forgotten something. A moment afterwards he sighed heavily, put on his spectacles, and went about his work again. » d. “My firm conviction is that, independent of the mental anguish it occasions—an anguish so acute and so tremendous, that all imagination of it must fall far short of the reality—it wears the mind into a morbid state, which renders it unfit for the rough contact and busy action of the world. It is my fixed opinion that those who have undergone this punishment, must pass into society again morally unhealthy and diseased.” B3) Formative trips abroad (ctd.)
Italy, Switzerland, & France (1844-47) Christmas Carols: financial gain AND sincerity (Pr. Felton) 3 main reasons: exhaustion; unpopularity; finances. Genoa, Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice… Pictures from Italy (1846) What Dickens especially focuses on: 1.contrasts 2.vitality of the Italians 3.his personal reactions The originality of Pictures according to Sylvère Monod B3) Formative trips abroad (end)
Originality of Pictures from Italy (1/4) B3) Formative trips abroad (end) …/…
Originality of Pictures from Italy (2/4) B3) Formative trips abroad (end) Sylvère Monod, “Préface” to Images d’Italie, Avignon: A. Barthelemy, 2001, p. 9-11. …/…
Originality of Pictures from Italy (3/4) […] B3) Formative trips abroad (end) Sylvère Monod, “Préface” to Images d’Italie, Avignon: A. Barthelemy, 2001, p. 9-11.
Originality of Pictures from Italy (4/4) Sylvère Monod, “Préface” to Images d’Italie, Avignon: A. Barthelemy, 2001, p. 9-11. […] B3) Formative trips abroad (end)
Italy, Switzerland, & France (continued) Effect of Europe on Dickens : 1.a different perspective formulates his set of core beliefs ; 2.focus on poverty; 3.fight against social injustice. About The Chimes: “I like more and more my notion of making, in this little book, a great blow for the poor. Something powerful, I think I can do, but I want to be tender too, and cheerful; as like the Carol in that respect as may be, and as unlike it as such a thing can be […] and if my design be anything at all, it has a grip upon the very throat of the time.” (letter to John Forster, 8 Oct. 1844) Dombey and Son (1847-48): Switzerland, Paris & London! B3) Formative trips abroad (end)
B4) Years of success and prosperity a) Dickens & the performing arts His amateur theatrical company (1845) Ben Jonson’s 1598 play Every Man in His Humour. Accomplished magician Tavistock House entertainments (his London home, 1851-60) his last home: Gad’s Hill in Kent (bought 1856, moved in 1857)] Public readings Birmingham (1853). Powerful episode: murder of Nancy by Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist. “As well as being our greatest novelist, Dickens developed a new, composite art form in his stage performances, acting out specially adapted passages from his own works and varying his expressions and speech patterns, so that it seemed as if he were becoming possessed by the characters he created. His reading tours won him huge popular acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.” Matt Shinn in The Guardian (Saturday 31 January 2004). Biographical information
Tavistock House, London (demolished 1901) Gad’s Hill, Kent (not yet open to the public – see article)see article 1851-60 1856-70 B4) Years of success and prosperity (ctd.)
b) Dickens & charities 1844: “Ragged Schools Union” Dickens visits Field Lane Ragged School.Field Lane Ragged School From 1846-7: “Urania Cottage” in West London (Shepherd’s Bush). Home for “fallen women.” Advised Angela Burdett-Coutts. “[S]he is degraded and fallen, but not lost, having the shelter; and that the means of Return to Happiness.” (Dickens letter of 23 May 1846 to Burdett-Coutts) 1851: Guild of Literature and Arts. With the help of his friend novelist Edward Bulwer- Lytton. Angela Burdett-CouttsEdward Bulwer-Lytton B4) Years of success and prosperity (ctd.)
c) Dickens’s greatest novels & journalism Dombey and Son (1846-8) David Copperfield (1849-50) Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre A new weekly: Household Words (from 30 March 1850) Master Humphrey’s Clock ( † 1841), Daily News (1846) Platform for social reform. Influence of Thomas Carlyle (Chartism, 1840 or Past and Present 1843) issues like slum clearance, prison administration, educational systems, sanitary measures, etc. A modern magazine “It was to be a weekly miscellany of general literature; and its stated objects were to be, to contribute to the entertainment and instruction of all classes of readers, and to help in the discussion of the more important social questions of the time. It was to comprise short stories by others as well as himself; matters of passing interest in the liveliest form that could be given to them; subjects suggested by books that might most be attracting attention; and poetry in every number if possible, but in any case something of romantic fancy. This was to be a cardinal point. There was to be no mere utilitarian spirit; with all familiar things, but especially those repellent on the surface, something was to be connected that should be fanciful or kindly; and the hardest workers were to be taught that their lot is not necessarily excluded from the sympathies and graces of imagination.” John Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens, “Book Six: At the Summit (1847-52)” B4) Years of success and prosperity (ctd.)
c) Dickens’s greatest novels & journalism (end) Lord Northcliffe called Dickens “the greatest magazine editor either of this or of any other age” (Northcliffe founded Daily Mail, then owned The Times) Importance of Household Words: Dickens’s evolution Embryonic form of his later novels Bleak House: from March 1852 slowness of the judicial system Hard Times: published in Household Words from April 1854 education Little Dorrit: from December 1855 debtor’s prison, inefficient governments B4) Years of success and prosperity (end)
B5) Years of personal crisis Problematic relationships 1858: separation from his wife Catherine Ellen Lawless Ternan in The Frozen Deep mistress “Estella” in Great Expectations, “Bella Wilfer” in Our Mutual Friend, “Helena Landless” in The Mystery of Edwin Drood William Makepeace Thackeray, his friend & literary rival * The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844) or Vanity Fair (1847-48) * Daughters Annie & Minnie (Thackeray) friends with Mamie & Katey (Dickens) * “A fatal story for our trade” (of Dickens’s separation, behaviour to his wife & “Personal Statement” in The Times) Bradbury & Evans Chapman & Hall (publishers) All the Year Round (1859) A Tale of Two Cities (from April) Biographical information
Problematic relationships (ctd.) Dickens’s “Personal Statement,” The Times, 7 June 1858. B5) Years of personal crisis (ctd.)
9 June 1865: Staplehurst Railway accident (see article)see article “Suddenly I came upon a staggering man covered with blood (I think he must have been flung clean out of his carriage) with such a frightful cut across the skull that I couldn't bear to look at him. I poured some water over his face, and gave him some to drink, and gave him some brandy, and laid him down on the grass, and he said, “I am gone”, and died afterwards. Then I stumbled over a lady lying on her back against a little pollard tree, with the blood streaming over her face (which was lead colour) in a number of distinct little streams from the head. I asked her if she could swallow a little brandy, and she just nodded, and I gave her some and left her for somebody else. The next time I passed her, she was dead.“ LetterLetter to his friend Thomas Mitton, 13 June 1865 9 June 1870: Died of exhaustion & another stroke B5) Years of personal crisis (end)
C) Further Reading C1) Recommended biographies C2) Recommended book of facsimiles
C1) Further reading: Recommended biographies The ‘official’ biography (1872-74). Available onlineAvailable online. Also exists illustra- ted & abridged. The most famous of the Dickens biographies. Abridged in 2002. A recent (& excellent) biography (2012). A short and very good introduction in French (2011).
C2) Further reading: Recommended book of facsimiles Wonderful facsimiles of documents related to Dickens Published on the occasion of the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth (2012) by the CharlesCharles Dickens MuseumDickens Museum and one of Dickens’s descendants, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley.