All 2 entries tagged Charles Dickens
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January 14, 2013
In the Bleak House classes today I talked about the Great Exhibition of 1851 as one important context in which to situate the novel. These watercolours by Henry Clarke Pidgeon give an idea of the objects on display and, in the second picture, the size and scale of the Crystal Palace:
The building itself is interesting because the iron and glass architecture produced an unfamiliar experience of space, disrupting perceptions of size, distance and scale - seemingly objective, stable categories of understanding one's position in the world. I've written a bit more about this here.
The Great Exhibition also provides context for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: the "moonstone" itself was inspired by the Koh-I-Noor diamond which was on display at the Exhibition:
(visitors viewing the Koh-I-Noor)
The Guardian's "From the Archive" series brought to light a piece about the Exhibition shortly after its opening in 1851, noting that "the English showed most curiosity about the foreign half of the exhibition, while foreigners eagerly inspected the British department", and briefly mentioning the Koh-i-noor which "appeared to be the chief object of attraction among the fairer portion of the assemblage".
I've written more about the Great Exhibition and connections on my research blog.
January 02, 2013
We'll be starting the first seminar of the term with a recap of the novels studied so far and then thinking about how Bleak House fits into the emerging trajectory of "the English 19th century novel". In preparation for this I'd like you to think about the following:
- What themes and ideas have been predominant throughout the novels studied? What picture of the 19th century have these built up?
- What narrative techniques have we seen used - form, style, structure, narrative voice etc?
- How does Bleak House fit into this - what themes and contexts does it raise as significant? What literary techniques can you identify? How does its handling of "the condition of England" resonate with or differ from the novels of last term?
You could also start to think about issues around connection, circulation and networks in Bleak House which we'll discuss more in week 2.