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Dickens and the Despised Mother: A Critical Reading of Three Autobiographical Novels

By Shale Preston
This work offers an original interpretation of the mothers of the protagonists in Dickens’s autobiographical novels. Taking Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalytic concept of abjection and Mary Douglas’s anthropological analysis of pollution as its conceptual framework, the book argues that Dickens’s primary emotional response towards the mother who abandoned him to work in a blacking warehouse was disgust, and suggests that we can trace similar signs of disgust in the narrators of his fictional autobiographies, David Copperfield, Bleak House, and Great Expectations.
The author provides a close reading of Dickens’s autobiographical fragment and opens up the possibility that Dickens’s feelings towards his mother actually bore a significant influence on his fiction. The book closes with a provocative discussion of Dickens’s compulsive Sikes and Nancy public readings.
Shale Preston is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of English at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She has published articles and book chapters on Dickens and has presented papers on his work at international conferences in Europe, the United States, Asia and Australia.
ISBN 978-0-7864-7139-3
Ebook ISBN 978-0-7864-9331-9 2013
Purchase from McFarland Press

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