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Charles Dickens's Networks

Jonathan H. Grossman

Published in print October 2013 | ISBN: 9780199682164
Published online March 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191803734 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199682164.001.0001
Charles Dickens's Networks

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The same week in February 1836 that Charles Dickens was hired to write his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, the first railway line in London opened. This book explores the rise of the global, high-speed passenger transport network in the nineteenth century and the indelible impact it made on Dickens’s work. The advent first of stage coaches, then of railways and transoceanic steam ships made unprecedented round-trip journeys across once seemingly far distances seem ordinary and systematic. Time itself was changed. The Victorians overran the separate, local times kept in each town, establishing instead the synchronized, ‘standard’ time, which now ticks on our clocks. This book examines the history of public transport’s systematic networking of people and how this revolutionized perceptions of time, space, and community, and how the art form of the novel played a special role in synthesizing and understanding it all. Focusing on a trio of road novels by Charles Dickens, it looks first at a key historical moment in the networked community’s coming together, then at a subsequent recognition of its tragic limits, and, finally, at the construction of a revised view that expressed the precarious, limited omniscient perspective by which passengers came to imagine their journeying in the network.

Keywords: Charles Dickens; The Pickwick Papers; stage coaches; public transport; novel; road novels; train travel; railway

Book.  272 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Charles Dickens's Networks

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The Speeding of the Pickwick Coach in Charles Dickens's Networks

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On Tragedy’s Tracks in Charles Dickens's Networks

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International Connections in Charles Dickens's Networks

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