Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is regarded as one of the greatest novelists in the English language.

He is famous partly for having created some of the most famous boy characters in literature.

Apparently, Oliver Twist was the first boy to be the main character in a novel.

Many boys inhabit Dickens novels; from Pip to Nicholas Nickleby.

Of all the books written by Charles Dickens, David Copperfield was Dickens' personal favorite.

David Copperfield was also Dicken's most autobiographical novel. [3]

Acording to Françoise Dupeyron-Lafay (The Forms and Functions of Language in David Copperfield):

Cannot homosexual overtones be heard in David’s admiration, and even 'love' for Steerforth, or in his comparing himself to a submissive female character, Scheherazade, reading to the sultan ? [17]

I thought of him very much after I went to bed, and raised myself, I recollect, to look at him where he lay in the moonlight, with his handsome face turned up, and his head reclining softly on his arm. He was a person of great power in my eyes; that was, of course, the reason of my mind running on him. (VI, 82)

... to disappoint or to displease Steerforth was of course out of the question. In the morning too, when I felt weary, and should have enjoyed another hour’s repose very much, it was a tiresome thing to be roused, like the Sultana Scheherazade, and forced into a long story before the getting-up bell rang; but Steerforth was resolute . . . I admired and loved him, and his approval was return enough. It was so precious to me, that I look back on these trifles, now, with an aching heart (VII, 86).

Strangely enough, too, the male character is feminised even before his birth, first by his aunt counting on the arrival of a baby-girl in Chapter I, then by Steerforth — first at Salem House (Chapters VI and VII), then in London, when he nicknames David “Daisy” (XIX, 243); because of the polysemy of the word, used twice (once with capital letters), Steerforth seems to have only the flower in mind (a symbol of freshness and innocence), but we also think of a girl’s name.

Dr Holly Furneaux (View as HTML ) has made a study of homoerotic desire in Dickens’ works.

Her article, ‘Charles Dickens’ Families of Choice: Elective Affinities, Sibling Substitution, and Homoerotic Desire’ appeared in the September 07 issue of Nineteenth Century Literature.
Dr Furneaux suggests that in Victorian times a male might transfer his love for another male onto a female sibling.

Dr Furneaux writes:

“In his repeated delineation of a male character’s compulsive shift of attention from a close male friend to his (most often) physically similar sister, Dickens leans on – and then proceeds to expose the homoerotic possibilities within – two central Victorian beliefs about siblinghood.

“Domestic ideologies of siblinghood allowed both fictional men and their historical counterparts to create a homoerotically motivated family of choice through betrothal to the suggestively similar sister of their closest male friend.

"Dickens pioneered an influential model for covert, but highly corporeal, homoerotic articulation which was thereafter eagerly employed by his contemporaries, including Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and later in more overt representations of homosexuality by writers such as E. M. Forster and Evelyn Waugh.”

In 1829, Dickens apparently fell in love with Maria Beadnell.

In 1836, Dickens married Catherine Hogarth.

John Carey in 'The Violent Effigy' has a chapter on Dickens and Sex. Carey believes that Dickens failed to fully and adequately depict even one normal sexual relationship in his books. Reportedly, Dickens was not particularly close to his clumsy wife, Catherine. (Alfred Hitchcock and Charles Dickens)

Dickens traveled to Italy in 1844-45 and then to Switzerland and Paris in 1846.

In 1857 Hans Christian Anderson came to stay with Dickens.

Also in 1857, Dickens met 18 year-old Ellen Ternan and became very fond of her.

In 1858 Charles and Catherine separated.


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