Cover image for Dickens redressed : the art of Bleak house and Hard times
Dickens redressed : the art of Bleak house and Hard times
Welsh, Alexander.
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Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xviii, 225 pages ; 22 cm
Bleak house and Dickens -- Esther Summerson, heroine -- Ada Clare, pride and beauty -- Honoria, Lady Dedlock -- Jarndyce and Skimpole -- The novel's satire -- The novel's judgment -- Dickens in Coketown -- Louisa Gragrind's role -- The novel and the circus.
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PR4556 .W45 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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With Bleak House and Hard Times, Charles Dickens inaugurated a series of novels now known as "later Dickens"--works with a darker mood and more strident satire than his earlier fiction. Though these two novels continue to be immensely popular, they are only partly understood, Alexander Welsh contends. In this sequel to his critically acclaimed From Copyright to Copperfield, Welsh closely examines the two novels Dickens wrote after David Copperfield and reassesses the importance of this crucial stage of Dickens's career.

In spite of the famous double narrative of Bleak House, says Welsh, the various actions and roles of the characters answer the needs of the protagonist much as they do in David Copperfield. Dickens redresses himself as the female narrator Esther Summerson and at the same time redirects his artistic energy in forms less explicitly personal. When he wrote Hard Times-- which can be considered an epilogue to the much longer Bleak House-- Dickens was able to conceive a plot neither centered around a hero nor fueled by the kind of wish fulfillment that structure had implied. Welsh's engaging discussion and original insights into two of Dickens's most successful novels will enhance the enthusiast's pleasure in reading these works and inspire longtime students of the novelist to think about Dickens's extraordinary accomplishments in new ways.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In a sequel to his From Copyright to Copperfield: The Identity of Dickens (CH, Feb'88), Welsh (Yale) minutely examines Bleak House and Hard Times. The "redressed" of the title refers to the attempt to right wrongs in society through satire, but it also refers to the first-person narrative voice of Bleak House, Esther Summerson, who is seen, in a sense, as a continuation of the voice of Copperfield. Welsh follows an extensive analysis of the double narrative with chapters on Ada Claire, Lady Dedlock, and Jarndyee and Skimpole as well as the novel's satire. The author sees Hard Times as a novel lacking a hero, Dickens's first novel since Pickwick not driven by wish fulfillment. Particularly intriguing is a section looking at parallels between Bounderby's account of his life and Dickens's. Perhaps the most comprehensive and perceptive examination of Bleak House to date, this work is an important addition to the literature for all students of Dickens, upper-division undergraduate and above. J. D. Vann; University of North Texas