Dickens and the Despised Mother
A Critical Reading of Three Autobiographical Novels
About the Book
This work offers an original interpretation of the mothers of the protagonists in Dickens’s autobiographical novels. Taking Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalytic concept of abjection and Mary Douglas’s anthropological analysis of pollution as its conceptual framework, the book argues that Dickens’s primary emotional response towards the mother who abandoned him to work in a blacking warehouse was disgust, and suggests that we can trace similar signs of disgust in the narrators of his fictional autobiographies, David Copperfield, Bleak House, and Great Expectations.
The author provides a close reading of Dickens’s autobiographical fragment and opens up the possibility that Dickens’s feelings towards his mother actually bore a significant influence on his fiction. The book closes with a provocative discussion of Dickens’s compulsive Sikes and Nancy public readings.
About the Author(s)
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The Autobiographical Fragment 5
The Etiology of Disgust 36
Clara Copperﬁeld, Betsey Trotwood and the Construction
of the Feminine Sublime in David Copperﬁeld 52
Miss Barbary, Lady Dedlock and the Disﬁgurement
of Esther Summerson in Bleak House 98
Georgiana Pirrip, Mrs. Joe and the Case for the
Hero’s Disgust in Great Expectations 132
Chapter Notes 185
Book Reviews & Awards
“In this enjoyable and cogently argued book, the reader is immersed in a series of well researched debates, while accompanied by a lively, engaged, personal voice, sorting and sifting a variety of points of view in pursuit of fresh textual readings.”—International Dickens Fellowship; “a groundbreaking study of Charles Dickens’ autobiographical novels focusing on how he represents motherly figures with disgust”—Reference & Research Book News; “Preston’s Dickens and the Despised Mother yields persuasive new readings of Dickensian mothers that add significantly to important work by Carolyn Dever, Patricia Ingham, Natalie McKnight, and Michael Slater.”—Dickens Studies Annual.