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Abstract

To the young Charles Dickens, what was distinctive about his London was not only its state of ceaseless change but also its atmosphere of pervasive loss. Making a profit there takes nearly magical powers, as his 1836 account of a fading city nightspot suggests:

There was a time when if a man ventured to wonder how Vauxhall-gardens would look by day, he was hailed with a shout of derision at the absurdity of the idea. Vauxhall by daylight! A porter-pot without porter, the House of Commons without the Speaker, a gas-lamp without the gas — pooh, nonsense, the thing was not be thought of. It was rumoured, too, in those times, that Vauxhall-gardens by day, were the scene of secret and hidden experiments; that there, carvers were exercised in the mystic art of cutting a moderate-sized ham into slices thin enough to pave the whole of the grounds; that beneath the shade of the tall trees, studious men were constantly engaged in chemical experiments, with the view of discovering how much water a bowl of negus could possibly bear; and that in some retired nooks, appropriated to the study of ornithology, other sage and learned men were, by a process known only to themselves, incessantly employed in reducing fowls to a mere combination of skin and bone. (S 153)1

Keywords

Market Society World Religion Magical Power Ideal Interest Commodity Form 
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Notes

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© David Payne 2005

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