Abstract

“Nobody, Somebody, and Everybody” argues that the convergence of the Crimean War, liberal political ideology, and statistical thought created a crisis of accountability in the public sphere in mid-Victorian England, a crisis to which Dickens responded in his journalism by elaborating a rhetoric of indefiniteness through the use of the pronoun “somebody.” Statistics produced an abstract order of behavior that described humans en masse, whereas moral traditions framed questions of accountability according to observed behaviors of individual men. This accountability crisis is explored through a reading of Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854), while Dickens’s writing in Household Words is understood as an aspirational solution to this crisis.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2052
Print ISSN
0042-5222
Pages
pp. 65-86
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-05
Open Access
No
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