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Reviews as an organizing principle. However, Harris's book is essential reading for anyone interested in the figure of the late Victorian hostess, and is a unique contribution to Victorian studies in general. Natalie Neill York University John O. Jordan, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001. xxi + 235 pp. Hardback $54.95 Paperback $19.95. The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens begins with an essay on Dickens's Hfe by Graham Smith that is somewhat typical of the thirteen essays that foUow it. It is theoretical, asking the question 'how can one write a biography about what is ultimately a textual construct?' (Dickens through the words in which we know him); it is historical, probing the social, cultural, economic, and poHtical contexts in which the novels were written; and it is grounded in the detaüs of the novels. It might be labeUed new historicist, psychobiography, or poststructural. The Companion includes a wide variety of essays, nearly aU of which mix critical styles. There are chronologicaUy based essays, thematicaUy arranged essays, technical essays, and what might be caUed idiosyncratic essays (Richard L. Stein's fascinating essay on "Dickens and IUustration,"John Glavin's essay on "Dickens and Theatre," andJoss Marsh's essay on "Dickens and FUm"). Most of the essayists combine different methodologies and at least flirt with different ideologies. The essays in the Companion fit nicely together because none of them are primarily defences of those methodologies or ideologies. They are about Dickens and his work. Given the variety of material in the coUection, it is unlikely that the average reader wiU study it from cover to cover. As Dickens appeals to both scholars and an enthusiastic pubHc, so wiU the Companion. But it is more likely that readers, academic or otherwise, wiU select the topic that interests them rather than read the text as fourteen continuous "chapters" (as the essays are fashionably described). Nearly aU of the essays have helpfuUy descriptive titles ("Dickens and Language") for the reader interested in a particular subject. And the subjects are often very particular, demonstrating not only Dickens's interminable interests and energy, but also the vast amount of 1 10volume 30 number 1 Reviews work that has been done on him in the past — which in itself commands new, multidisciplinary approaches. But only the reader with an enormously broad range of specialized interests and abüities could approach the coUection as a unified, consecutive arrangement of chapters. The most notable essays include Smith's "The Life and Times of Charles Dickens," Kate Flint's "The Middle Novels: Chu^lewit, Dombey, and Copperfield" Hüary Schor's "Novels of the 1850s: Hard Times, Uttle Dorrit, and A Tale of Two Cities" Catherine Water's "Gender, Famüy, and Domestic Ideology," and Stein's "Dickens and IUustration." Smith, who admits to being comfortable with some "psychoanalytic probing" (8), ferrets out episodes in the novels having "some relation" to Dickens's Hfe. Positing the "fusion between the Hfe and the times which made up the substance of Dickens's biography" (14), he also attempts "to recreate a sense of Dickens's personal Hfe through the women who occupied important places within it" (11). Because Smith refuses to compartmentalize analytical approaches, his essay wiU not turn away readers of different methodological persuasions. Most of the ensuing essays share this sort of open criticism. Brian Cheadle's basicaUy Marxist approach in "The Late Novels: Great Expectations and OurMutualFriend" for example, is not entirely or dogmaticaUy Marxist he introduces techniques from other schools as weU. Kate Flint borrows from geographical criticism to explore the fiction of the 1840s, focusing on "metaphors of motion" in Dickens's work and seeing in his "resdessness" a "response to modernity" (36). The essay is tight, though it again uses a variety of approaches and takes into consideration a mixture of factors to explain how Dickens dealt with change: biography, economic pressures, social and poHtical histories, and so on. like Smith and Cheadle, whose essays also de-dichotomize intrinsic and extrinsic approaches to the text, Flint does not aUow her methodology to become the topic of her essay: Dickens and his work remain front and centre. H...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 110-112
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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