Dickens Breaks Out: the Public Readings and Little Dorrit

  • David Payne
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


In the 1857 essay entitled “On the Modern Element in Literature,” Matthew Arnold identified two essential qualities of his own mid-century: the abundance, both material and theoretical, of its “copious and complex present”; and the state of “bafflement” in which the beneficiaries of this abundance lived. Speaking this longstanding contradiction — between modernity’s power to liberate people from the positions and dispositions to which they were born and the radical contingency and uncertainty this liberation brings — makes news to this day, as when the political scientist Robert E. Lane informs us that the affluent citizens of today’s “market democracies” are substantially less happy than most of their predecessors and contemporaries.1


Literary History Freeze Deep Public Reading Market Democracy Household Word 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© David Payne 2005

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  • David Payne

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