By Keith Easley
AMS Studies in the Nineteenth Century, No. 48
Truth belongs to no one person, says Mikhail Bakhtin, but rather is created and lives or dies among people. The Russian philosopher’s concepts of authoring and dialogism offer important ways of participating in the intersubjective activity we call human understanding, and only through that participation, Bakhtin insists, may we realize the truths that enable us to take responsibility for ourselves.
Easley applies Bakhtin’s thinking to Dickens’s work and in the process rekindles and reaccentuates Victorian concerns with love, morality, and character. Although we see with the “parted eye” of a different time and place, we play our part in shaping Dickens’s characters, while perhaps coming to appreciate that we are also shaped, for good or ill, by them.
Our attempts to aesthetically love our heroes and heroines may afford greater knowledge of self for both characters and the reader, but anyone may fall victim to the lure of Dickens’s and Bakhtin’s common enemy—that figure with whom we share so much and in whose image Western society is formed: the self-made man who would consume the world in his self-consummation. Dickens’s greatest novels are defined by their remarkable success in countering this power.
1. David Copperfield’s Self-Consummation
2. Self-Possession in Great Expectations
3. Dialogism: Definitions and Contexts
4. Authoring and Dialogism in Bleak House
5. Hard Times: Art and Reality
6. Little Dorrit: From Authoring to Dialogism
7. Little Dorrit: Re-creation
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Dickens and Bakhtin : authoring and dialogism in Dickens’s novels, 1849–1861 / Keith Easley.
p. cm. — (AMS studies in the nineteenth century, ISSN 0196-657X ; no. 48)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-404-64478-9 (cloth : acid-free paper)
1. Dickens, Charles, 1812–1870—Criticism and interpretation.
2. Bakhtin, M. M. (Mikhail Mikhailovich), 1895–1975—Criticism and interpretation.
3. Dialogism (Literary analysis)