This post was contributed by Professor Kieran Dolin, University of Western Australia
A sense of death or despair permeates the environs of the law in chapter eight of Our Mutual Friend, as Dickens conducts an imagined stranger (who could well be the reader) through the ‘dismal churchyard’ of the Temple to the building where, at one window, Mortimer Lightwood’s clerk can be seen killing time. The sunny and benevolent Mr Boffin was once that stranger, and like Kafka’s man from the country in the fable, ‘Before the Law,’ he stood hopefully at the threshold of the legal system. His initial view of young Blight ‘chopping at flies on the window-sill with his penknife’ represents the scene of the law as a space of power and violence, with its echo of Shakespeare’s image from King Lear, ‘As flies to wanton boys are we to gods, / They kill us for their sport.’
Have you read part 3 (July 1864) yet? Join us here to blog and comment on the instalment on 1st July!
Eleanor Reeds at the University of Connecticut has penned this blog post on our reading and blogging project for the Journal of Victorian Cultural Online. Eleanor considers the emotional and nostalgic appeal of approximating the original experience of reading Dickens serially in a digital age characterised by ceaseless change and technical innovation.
Free workshop on Monday 7th July 2014 at Senate House, London.
This free, one-day workshop will provide an opportunity to reflect upon and develop a number of digital Dickens projects, including a sequence of online serial reading projects and Dickens Journals Online (DJO). We intend for the event to enrich the development of digital Dickens projects by increasing participation and building confidence and competence in engaging in online communities and using social media. The workshop will also offer an opportunity to think about recent research in this area, and encourage participants to make connections between their forms of scholarship in different media.
Charlotte Becker, Assistant Director of the English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA) at the University of California, and Lecturer in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, reflects on the ballads in the second instalment of Our Mutual Friend.
Chapter 5 of Our Mutual Friend is entitled ‘Boffin’s Bower,’ but the chapter begins in a far less Comfortable and Fashionable location: Silas Wegg’s station for selling fruits, nuts, gingerbread, and halfpenny ballads. Our narrator comically details the discomforts of Wegg’s corner station, from the constantly inclement weather to the questionable condition of his edible wares. Yet Mr. Boffin, in contrast with the narrator, is wholeheartedly delighted by Wegg’s station:
‘Lard!’ exclaimed Noddy Boffin, in a tone of great enjoyment, as he settled himself down, still nursing his stick like a baby, ‘it’s a pleasant place, this! And then to be shut in on each side, with these ballads, like so many book-leaf blinkers! Why, it’s delightful!’ (37)
Over at the Drood Inquiry this month, they’re reading and blogging about the third instalment (June 1870). Reading Our Mutual Friend, Dickens’s last completed novel, alongside his final, unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood, is proving absolutely fascinating!
Highlights of the second part of the ‘Our Mutual Friend Tweets’ project can now be found on Storify! Click here to catch up on the latest developments.
And don’t forget to bookmark ‘Our Mutual Feed’ to keep up with the story day-to-day.