Abstract

Abstract:

This paper probes the roles that fungi play in Dickens’s urban poetics. Molds, mildews, and other rots shaped in important ways both Dickens’s experience of London and the city he created in his writing, beginning with Sketches by Boz. The Victorian period saw a slow and uneven paradigm change in the understanding of decay, and fungi in particular were perceived to pose a great threat to the British empire. Bringing Little Dorrit and Great Expectations in conversation with the writings of the mycologist Miles Joseph Berkeley, the essay argues that Dickens’s later fungi point toward the beginnings of ideas about the place of humans within the natural world that would have coexisted uncomfortably with the general anthropocentrism of Dickens’s natural theology.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2169-5377
Print ISSN
0742-5473
Pages
pp. 42-61
Launched on MUSE
2022-02-24
Open Access
No
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