Pecksniff and Pratfalls

  • Coral Lansbury

Abstract

If there is a chastening thought for academic scholars it must surely be this: Dickens is flourishing out there in the real world without any help from literary critics. Ebenezer Scrooge has long been the best friend of every advertising agent who appreciates how Dickens taught people to celebrate Christmas in the proper commercial spirit: buy the biggest and the best and do not waste time attending church when you could be more profitably employed shopping. Television and Broadway ransack Dickens’s novels that seem to have been written with more than a sideways glance at the stage and screen. Dickens can be deconstructed and demythologised, he can be interpreted by Freud or Lacan, but no one can deny his popularity. Dickens does not have to be discovered. So if there is one aspect of Dickens that merits praise, it is his vulgarity: the quality that literary scholars must accept and share with advertising agents, theatrical producers and ordinary people everywhere. Some of his contemporaries regarded him as an uncultivated crowd-pleaser and spoke of him in the same terms as Pimlico and Reynolds, but even they could not deny that Dickens’s vulgarity was capable of invoking moods and emotions that evaded and surpassed the calculating intellect.

Keywords

Pyramid Verse Ecstasy Carol Monopoly 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Paul Schlicke, Dickens and Popular Entertainment (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985) pp. 14–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. J. Broadhurst, A History of Pantomime (New York: Arno Press, 1977) p. 218.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A. E. Brookes Cross, ‘The Fascination of the Footlights’, Dickensian, vol. 23 (1927) p. 87.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Percy Fitzgerald, The World behind the Scenes (London: Chatto & Windus, 1881) pp. 52–53.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coral Lansbury, ‘Dickens’ Romanticism Domesticated’, Dickens Studies Newsletter (June 1972) pp. 36–46.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Edwin Eigner, ‘The Absent Clown in Great Expectations’, Dickens Studies Annual, vol. 12 (1982) p. 121.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi, edited by ‘Boz’ (London: G. Routledge, 1854) pp. vi–vii.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Michael R. Booth, Victorian Spectacular Theatre 1850–1910 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981) p. 75.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Carol Hanbery MacKay 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Coral Lansbury

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations