Dickens, Journalism, and Nationhood: Mapping the World in by Sabine Clemm

By Sabine Clemm

Dickens, Journalism, and Nationhood examines Charles Dickens’ weekly relations journal loved ones phrases with a view to improve a close photograph of ways the magazine negotiated, asserted and concurrently deconstructed Englishness as a unified (and occasionally unifying) mode of expression. It bargains shut readings of quite a lot of fabrics that self-consciously specialise in the character of England in addition to the connection among Britain and the ecu continent, eire, and the British colonies. beginning with the illustration and category of identities that happened in the framework of the nice Exhibition of 1851, it means that the magazine strives for a version of the area in concentric circles, spiraling outward from the metropolitan middle of London. regardless of this obvious orderliness, in spite of the fact that, all of the nationwide or local different types built through the magazine additionally resists and undermines one of these simple illustration.

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Extra resources for Dickens, Journalism, and Nationhood: Mapping the World in Household Words (Studies in Major Literary Authors)

Example text

His strongest sentiment committed to paper can be found in a letter to Count D’Orsay, from May 18, 1851: ‘I can’t bear the noise, and crowd, of London—where everybody is madder than usual due to the Exhibition [ . . ’ 61 Indeed, the very title of Bleak House stood in stark opposition to the Crystal Palace, ‘that glittering show-place of the utilitarian values which [Dickens . . ’ 62 He was also doubtful about the actual use of the Exhibition to the working classes, and his initial involvement with the Central Working Classes Committee and its thwarted efforts must have had a sobering effect.

The narrator’s initial criticisms are too detailed and keen, and his later attempts at reconciliation too weak and indefi nite, to alleviate the former entirely. Consequently, an atmosphere of anxiety prevails even at the end of Prince’s poem. Both Knight and Prince establish class as a central factor in Household Words’ approach to the Great Exhibition and in its defi nition of Englishness itself. I do not mean to suggest that these writers see the entire population as a homogeneous social group, but that issues such as labourers’ welfare, charity for the poor, better hygienic facilities for the lower social strata, and the ‘dignity of labour’ often come to be seen as particularly English concerns.

3 ‘Specimens from Mr. Punch’s Industrial Exhibition of 1850. (To Be Improved in 1851)’, in Punch, 18 (January—June, 1850), 145. anticipated and drew attention to it. 28 The cartoon not only draws attention to the deletion of the labourers from the manufacturing process but also suggests that the wealthy spectators are as unfamiliar with the human dimension of industry as with the machinery on display, since they can afford to be interested only in the finished commodity. The working classes were thus underrepresented at both the exhibiting and the visiting end of the Great Exhibition.

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