Charles Dickens’s Realism and the Romantic Essayists

Natarajan, Uttara. 2020. Charles Dickens’s Realism and the Romantic Essayists. SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 60(4), pp. 761-781. ISSN 0039-3657 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Through a series of textual comparisons between Leigh Hunt’s essays and Charles Dickens’s early city sketches, this article uncovers a neglected genealogy for Dickens’s realistic depictions of the ordinary subject. From establishing Dickens’s debt to the Romantic essayists more generally, I go on to elicit a key distinction. In the essayists’ representations, detail conduces to the construction of a self; in Dickens’s, it signals a close attention to the other. Detail, then, is the marker of the ethical relation modeled in Dickens’s style of ordinariness. Foregrounding this style, I reassert Dickens’s contribution to the developing realism of the mid-nineteenth century.

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Additional Information:

Charles Dickens, Leigh Hunt, realism, Victorian literature

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


1 May 2019Accepted
22 July 2021Published Online

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Date Deposited:

02 May 2019 10:03

Last Modified:

28 Jul 2021 06:01

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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