Grave Narrations: Dickens’s Later Writings

  • Eleanor Salotto


This chapter returns to Dickens to make the claim that in Great Expectations he pioneered a new narrative mode based on live burials, doubling, and layering. This new form of narration is gothic and makes its appearance in full force in Great Expectations. We have come to view the Victorian novel as representative of high realism; however, I argue that the Victorian novel is obsessed with buried secrets, returns from the dead, and ghosts. Narration itself at the supposed apogee of high realism becomes inhabited by ghostly presences, announcing the limitations of realism. Two forms of narration represent what I term gothic narration—the multiplot and first person narration. The multiplot novel which became the standard form for the Victorian novel layers stories; in a sense, then, this form rehearses the live burial of a story so that another story can continue. This layering of stories mimics doubling and shadows as one story impinges upon another story. The multiplot novel as Bakhtin has shown speaks in many voices.1


Fairy Tale Great Expectation Public Reading Lunatic Asylum Ghostly Effect 
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© Eleanor Salotto 2006

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  • Eleanor Salotto

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