Little Dorrit, Pictures from Italy and John Bull

  • Tore Rem


Our sense of geographical and ethnic identity has many different facets, and the result of an investigation of it depends on the microscopes and telescopes we use. About that great other, America, Dickens stated: ‘I do not find in America one form of religion with which we in Europe, or even in England, are unacquainted’.1 This statement is not quoted here because of its discussion of Dissenters but because of the ‘we in Europe’ and Dickens’s European identity. Even an Englishman might, of course, be inclined to stop referring to Europe as distinct from his own country when so far away from home, but it is my thesis that Dickens had both a critical attitude towards his own people regarding national identity and — for an Englishman at the time — a rather unusual openness to what Europe represented. This essay attempts to illuminate aspects of Dickens’s relationship to Italy as it is reflected in his letters, Pictures from Italy and Little Dorrit.


Ethnic Identity Guide Book American Dream English People Grand Tourist 
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  1. 13.
    George Orwell, ‘Charles Dickens’, in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell vol. 1, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus [1940] (London: Secker & Warburg, 1968) 413–60 (431–3).Google Scholar
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    Andrew Sanders, ‘The Dickens World’, in Creditable Warriors: 1830–1876 ed. Michael Cotsell, in the series English Literature and the Wider World vol. 3 (London: Ashfield, 1990) 131–42 (134).Google Scholar
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    Charles Dickens (ed.), ‘Insularities’, Household Words Saturday, 19 January 1856, vol. 13,1–4 (2).Google Scholar
  4. 58.
    John Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens ed. by J.W.T. Ley (London: Palmer, 1928) Book 7, Ch. 3, 580.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

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  • Tore Rem

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