After Dickens: Reading, Adaptation and Performance by John Glavin

By John Glavin

John Glavin deals either a performative interpreting of Dickens the novelist and an exploration of the potential of adaptive functionality of the novels themselves. via shut examine of textual content and context Glavin uncovers a richly ambivalent, frequently by surprise adverse, dating among Dickens and the theater and theatricality of his personal time, and indicates how Dickens' novels should be noticeable as a sort of counter functionality. but Glavin additionally explores the performative capability in Dickens' fiction, and describes new how you can level that fiction in emotionally robust, seriously acute variations.

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Sample text

Knowing actors always tell, their scenepartner, if they have one, but in every case, the audience. Failing to mark that distinction between telling and saying is what causes the usually keen J. L. Austin to get theatre thoroughly wrong in his famous dismissal of stage-speech as parasitic. He sees the actors speaking to each other on the stage and knows that, in that narrow room, they make nothing happen. But he refuses to see that their speech is actually directed at an audience, and, in so far as they are skilled at what they do, those actors must of course be producing affect.

Speech is episodic and individual; writing cumulative and impersonal. Speech relies on the visual/mimetic; writing on the phonetic/ symbolic. Speech is expressive; writing merely suggestive. Speech points; writing replaces. Hence those most characteristic features of Dickensian prose: onomatopoeia and paronomasia; parataxis rather than conventional syntax; the increasingly audacious manipulation of the fragment as opposed to the grammatical unit; a rhythm so regular it frequently approaches blank verse, and a persistent reluctance to generate any form of coherent reference.

But writing is the club of the Goliaths, most powerfully instantiated in the law writers of Bleak House whose collective name is Nemo, and who busily, endlessly inscribe the tyrannies of Chancery. Against their depersonalized world and the impersonal narrative that describes them, Bleak House sets its second, its other, its preferred voice: Esther’s narrative which imagines itself not to be writing but speech, direct and immediate address. Finding it ‘‘a great difficulty’’ to begin to ‘‘write [her] portion’’ of the novel’s pages – an instant indication of Dickensian virtue – Esther immediately displaces the act of writing for the recollection of speech.

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