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By Jerome Meckier

Booklet by means of Meckier, Jerome

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Additional info for Innocent abroad : Charles Dickens’s American engagements

Sample text

In a slaveholding country, Martin discovers that self-awareness commences with the recognition that every person is a slave to Self. This disconcerting glimpse of man's dark heart drove Dickens homeward yet left him nearly as estranged from the Victorian ethos emerging there as Gulliver was from his fellows or as Marlow would be. By the time Conrad's sailor resents "the sight of people hurrying though the streets to filch a little money from each other" and ridicules "their insignificant and silly dreams" (HD, 72-73), his depiction of the "sepulchral city" has been strongly prefigured in Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Our Mutual Friend.

Such is the novelist's indirect but souring import when relating a former innocent's exclamation: "Oh! " ( M C , 555). That the novelist would depict humanity differently from 1843-44 onward is as evident from Pinch's epiphany as from Martin's, on which it seems contingent. Disabused about Pecksniff, Tom soon discovers that Mercy, his former master's younger daughter, is so unhappily married that her nickname, "Merry," no longer applies. Upon meeting Jonas's crestfallen wife at Mrs. An "altered knowledge .

Easily made"). The belligerent Hannibal Chollop, a first-rate parody of Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and the backwoodsmen whom James Fenimore Cooper's Natty Bumpo had made famous, supplies Bevan's antithesis. Armed with his swordstick "Tickler," his knife "Ripper," and a set of revolving pistols, Chollop seems impervious to the fever that causes effete colonists to drop all around him, but he riles murderously at the slightest insult. Dickens wrote Forster about "noble specimens . . out of the West .

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