Member Publications

Subscribe via Email

To submit items for Of Victorian Interest or Member Publications, please email

Peter J. Capuano, Dickens’s Idiomatic Imagination: The Inimitable and Victorian Body Language

Dickens’s Idiomatic Imagination

The Inimitable and Victorian Body Language

Peter J. Capuano

Dickens's Idiomatic Imagination offers an original analysis of how Charles Dickens's use of "low" and "slangular" (his neologism) language allowed him to express and develop his most sophisticated ideas. Using a hybrid of digital (distant) and analogue (close) reading methodologies, Peter J. Capuano considers Dickens's use of bodily idioms—"right-hand man," "shoulder to the wheel," "nose to the grindstone"—against the broader lexical backdrop of the nineteenth century.


"In anatomizing Dickens's bodily idioms, Capuano combs the digital evidence with one hand while weaving ingenious interpretations with the other, modeling an elegant methodology for literary criticism today." —William A. Cohen, author of Embodied

"A tremendous book which sheds prismatic light on Dickens's unique and idiomatic language of the body. Demonstrating rather than asserting Dickens's linguistic singularity in ways that few works do, Capuano deftly integrates critical theory, digital humanities, and historically informed close reading to illuminate Dickens's inimitable ability to use the ordinary to convey the extraordinary. A must read." —Juliet John, editor of Dickens and Modernity

"Dickens's Idiomatic Imagination is an impressive work of literary research and analysis. Bringing together 'distant' and 'close' readings, Peter J. Capuano makes a significant contribution to scholarship on Dickens, especially to understanding and appreciating his extraordinary linguistic versatility and use of idiomatic and vernacular language." —John O. Jordan, author of Supposing Bleak House

Order online at:

NAVSA members 40% off and free shipping:  09EXP40

Tagged as: