Charles Dickens

Lyn Pykett

in The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199560615
Published online March 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191803499 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Novel in English

Charles Dickens

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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This chapter focuses on Charles Dickens as public man of letters. It explores the centrality of serial publication in the circulation and popularity of his work, and the role that drama and the stage played in his career. It discusses the importance of Dickens's own social origins, his sustained vocation as an investigative journalist, and his dedication to championing the poor. This wider mission as a social critic was sustained through Dickens's career, and the development of his narrative technique is interwoven with his exploration and exposure of the political situation in Britain. He was also preoccupied with the professional status of literature itself, and with his own celebrity status and position as a performer, throughout his writing life.

Keywords: Charles Dickens; Victorian fiction; novelists; serial publication; drama; investigative journalists; social critic

Chapter.  8101 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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