George Orwell once said of Dickens’ work: “It is not so much a series of books, it is more like a world.” In this book, J. Hillis Miller attempts to identify this “world,” to show how a single view of life pervades every novel that Dickens wrote, and to trace the development of this view throughout the chronological span of Dickens’ career. There are full critical analyses of six of the novels―Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Martin Chuzzlewit, Bleak House, Great Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend―and shorter discussions of many of the others. Each novel has been viewed as the transformation of the real world of Dickens’ experience into an imaginary world with certain special qualities of its own.
Certain elements persist through all the novels, the most important of which are the general situation of the hero at the beginning of the story and the general nature of the world in which he lives. Each of Dickens’ heroes begins his life cut off from other people, in a world which seems menacing and unfriendly and, on the social side, composed of inexplicable rituals and mysterious conventions; each lives, like Paul Dombey, “with an aching void in his young heart, and all outside so cold, and bare, and strange.” The heroes then move through successive adventures in an attempt to understand the world, to integrate themselves into it, and thus to find their true identity. Initially creatures of poverty and indigence, those characters reach out for something which transcends the material world and the self, something other than human, which will support and maintain the self without engulfing it. Within the totality of Dickens' novels this problem―the search for selfhood―is stated and restated, until, in the later novels, the answer is found to line in a rejections of the past, the given, and the exterior, and a reorientation toward the future and the free human spirit itself as the only true sources of value.
With a real understating and sympathy for his subject, Miller manages to transport us into the midst of Dickens’ “world” and to bring alive for us the whole strange and wonderful tribe that people his novels. This is an enlightening, well-written, enjoyable book for anyone who has ever had an interest in Dickens and his work.
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Descrizione libro Harvard University Press, 1958. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110674110005