Ghosts of Dickens Past, Present and Future

Inspired by Pete’s previous I had a closer look at ‘A Poor Man and His Beer’. I was surprised to see Cousin Feenix here, introduced in passing, as if we know him, as an upper-class, fast-living comparison to the poor man. I wonder if this is the same character as the noble, though unsteady on his legs, Cousin Feenix who comes from Baden Baden (where he’s off to die in this article) to his young cousin Edith’s wedding in Dombey and Son? He then goes on to do the right thing by Edith at the end. intrigued by this character, seemingly resurrected from an earlier Dickens novel, I continued through the installment to find in Trade Songs the figures of the workhouse nurse, cradling a foundling boy, and a heroic blacksmith. For me – although it might be stretching it and a bit of Dickens mania creeping in – these are the ghosts of Oliver Twist (past) and Joe Gargery (to come). What might it mean that alongside a serial concerned with people being recalled to life, that characters from across Dickens’s career stalk the number?

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About Holly Furneaux

Holly is a Reader in Victorian Literature at the University of Leicester. She has written variously on Dickens, including a book, Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities. For more details of her work, and her current research on the Military Man of Feeling, see her staff page:http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/people/hollyfurneaux

3 thoughts on “Ghosts of Dickens Past, Present and Future

  1. Its a thought worth following. Along with Poor man’s Beer the back references do seem to have a thread which goes through a lot of Dickens’ work. Recalling to life appears with Nickelby’s Smike, Twist’s physical recall at birth Miss Havisham’s recall of herself through Estelle and Magwitch turning from a criminal life after being rescued by a slice of pie.
    Recalling to life in the sense of changing life for the better appears to be on Dickens’ mind during his every wakeningmoment , if he ever slept

  2. Eagle eyes Holly! How great that Dickens would reference himself. I seem to recall him doing this in some of his speeches, but it’s interesting to see it here almost as a reassurance of continuity to his readers.

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