Dickens and Crime by Philip Collins

By Philip Collins

'One of the easiest social commentators on Dickens...models of old scholarship.'- Gertrude Himmelfarb, exotic Professor of heritage, urban collage of latest York. This vintage of Dickens feedback, now in its 3rd variation, presents a desirable perception into Dickens's pondering and writing on crime. outstanding in personality, in addition to literary ability, he displayed a smart perception into the legal personality, while not easy difficult consequences in the event you broke the legislation. At one degree interested in a profession as a metropolitan Justice of the Peace, Dickens became as a substitute to fiction and found there an outlet for his enduring fascination with the darker facet of human nature. Thieves, cheats and murderers humans the pages of his novels, few of that are with out a few critical crime. however the therapy of crime for Dickens used to be way over an authorial equipment: it was once a focus for his deep predicament with social difficulties and performed an important function in his try and comprehend those ills. Dickens and Crime remains to be some of the most major and illuminating reviews into Dickens's inventive mind's eye, and its reappearance in print can be warmly welcomed by means of students and common readers alike.

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17 Even ironic defiance is rarely present in 'A Visit to Newgate', much of which is a straightforward and quite effective account of what Dickens sees on his way round the prison. He expresses compassion for some of the prisoners, and horror at the depravity patent in others, but most of the description is non-committal and without comment. Thus, at one point he adds a footnote in the 1 839 edition: 'The regulations of the prison relative to the confinement of prisoners during the day, their sleeping at night, their taking their meals, and other matters of gaol economy, have been DICKENS AND CRIME all altered - greatly for the better - since this sketch was first published.

3• Dickens, as we saw, wrote ironically in 1861 about prisoners' 'setting fire to their prisons with the excusable object of improving the flavour of their soup'. 39 A few years later, a tough young army officer, Major Arthur Griffiths, went to Chatham as Deputy-Governor. 'I have seen men at Chatham greedily devour the railway grease used in the traffic of the trucks,' he later recalled; men ate their candles, and even such DICKENS AND HIS AGE 81 live frogs and worms as they could capture when at work outdoors.

A few months later, Pickwick Papers began to appear; its basically farcical tone did not give Dickens much occasion for social commentary nor for criminal deeds, but the civil prison which is a prominent scene of the later part of the book is presented so grimly as to dash even Mr Pickwick's spirits. 'I have seen enough,' he says after touring the Fleet. 'My head aches with these scenes, and my heart too. ' Dickens's last and uncompleted novel, Edwin Drood (1870) was also to have ended in a condemned cell.

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