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Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination
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  • Page extent: 314 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.63 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 823.8
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: n/a
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Dickens, Charles,--1812-1870--Criticism and interpretation
    • Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.)--History--19th century
    • Populaire literatuur.--gtt
    • Receptie.--gtt

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521845779)

The relationship between the work of Charles Dickens and popular literature has often been noted, but the extent to which his fiction and journalism were rooted in, and continued to respond to, the popular radical culture of his time had so far been unexplored. Sally Ledger traces the influence of Regency radicals, such as William Hone and William Cobbett, and mid-century radical writers, such as Douglas Jerrold and the Chartists Ernest Jones and G. W. M. Reynolds. She offers substantial readings of works from Pickwick to Little Dorrit, arguing that Dickens's populism bridged eighteenth- and nineteenth-century conceptions of the 'popular', the first identified with the political idea of 'the People', the second identified with a mass-market 'populace' that emerged during Dickens's career. Richly illustrated, this study also uncovers the resonance between Dickens's writings and popular graphic art by George Cruikshank, Robert Seymour, C. J. Grant and others.

• Substantial readings of Dickens's major fiction and journalism ranging across his writing career • Traces the influence of radical culture on Dickens's writing • Provides an important context for scholars of Dickens and of nineteenth-century literature


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Note on editions and abbreviations used; Introduction: Dickens and the popular radical imagination; 1. Popular radical culture in Regency England: Peterloo and The Queen Caroline Affair; 2. Dickens and nineteenth-century show trials; 3. Dickens, popular culture and popular politics in the 1830s: Oliver Twist; 4. Christmas is cancelled: Dickens and Douglas Jerrold writing the 1840s; 5. Popular and political writing in the radical press: from Douglas Jerrold to Ernest Jones, Chartist; 6. Household Words, politics and the mass market in the 1850s; 7. Flunkeyism and toadyism in the age of machinery: from Bleak House to Little Dorrit; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


Review of the hardback: 'Ledger offers fresh and convincing readings of well-known Dickens texts and of lesser known others. … her densely written and informed chapters give evidence both to the protean 'gestalt' of her topic and to the fascinating insights to be gained from informed readings of the texts in the ongoing critical debate. … The lavishly yet concisely annotated study is rounded off with a 'select bibliography' that exceeds many 'full' bibliographies of other studies. Ledger's admirable study is a major contribution to Dickens criticism and a welcome impulse towards the scholarly reconstruction of nineteenth-century radical discourse.' Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen

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