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date: 30 November 2021

p. 946. Dickensianlocked

p. 946. Dickensianlocked

  • Jenny Hartley


Charles Dickens became an adjective in his own lifetime. By the 1850s, he was ‘Dickenesque’ and ‘Dickensy’; ‘Dickensian’ came in the decade after his death. Contradictions beset the many connotations of ‘Dickensian’: on one hand conviviality and good cheer; on the other oppression, injustice, poverty, and urban squalor. The meanings accruing around ‘Dickensian’ also have to do with his manner of writing, increasingly pejorative as Victorian fiction fell out of fashion. But Dickensian energy is something that always attracts. Dickens has been and always will be bigger than his books, as their spirits overflow into the conduits of communal affect.

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