This month’s instalment races out of the gate with Dickens in full comic ‘canter, with arched head and mane, opened eyes and nostrils’, as he so ruthlessly describes the ‘rocking-horse’ Mrs Podsnap. The scene between Mr Podsnap and the ‘foreign gentleman’ brilliantly, and mercilessly, skewers the parochial, constricted world-view and facile triumphalism of the lazily prosperous commercial classes. The instalment shifts dramatically in tone, though, from the broad comedy of the Podsnaps’ awful, self-aggrandising party back to the dark mystery of John Harmon’s possible drowning. I was struck by how heavy with ‘stuff’ the world of Our Mutual Friend is: material goods, items of furniture, household wares, and, of course, waste, dirt and dust. While the glut of furniture, ornaments, dining implements and other domestic objects at the Podsnaps’ comically bespeaks their witless social ambitious and narrow, rigid outlook, there is also something redolent here of interment – a stifling claustrophobia.
Monthly Archives: July 2014
Heather Tilley explores the value of the Harmon dust mound. Her post draws from her forthcoming chapter, ‘Waste Matters: Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend and Nineteenth-Century Book Recycling’ in Book Destruction from the Medieval to the Contemporary, edited by Gill Partington and Adam Smyth, due to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in September 2014.
The third installment of Our Mutual Friend opens in Mortimer Lightwood’s dismal, dusty, eyrie office, with John Harmon’s former servant Mr Boffin arriving early to his appointment to learn the value of the legacy he will receive from Harmon’s will, following confirmation of John Harmon Jnr’s death. That sum, Mortimer languidly tells him, amounts to one hundred thousand pounds, available to Boffin with ‘no trouble’ attached to estates, rents or agents: that is, as ready cash. The Boffins, like modern-day Lottery winners, have become overnight millionaires (a web calculation suggests that the amount is worth around ten million pounds in today’s terms).
In June 1870 Charles Dickens died, leaving his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, incomplete, and the gate wide open for an army of enthusiasts to publish their own weird and wonderful solutions. In September 2014 The Drood Inquiry will launch, allowing the public to have the final verdict on how the story ends by providing details of the plot so far, character profiles, and the ideas others have had before inviting each visitor to vote for their choice of ending. To mark the launch of the site, a one-day conference will be held in Senate House, London on 20th September featuring authors, academics and enthusiasts among its delegates. Join us for a celebration of this beguiling work and its wide array of baffling solutions.
Here is the second part of Sarah Waters’s incredibly rich, detailed and funny account of our Digital Dickens workshop. If you missed the event, this blog post will fill you in on everything you need to know.
Sarah Waters at the University of Buckingham has written this wonderful account of our Digital Dickens workshop yesterday.
We’ll be tweeting from our Digital Dickens workshop tomorrow with #digitaldickens, so come and join the conversation if you’re on Twitter.
There are still places available, so feel free to come along tomorrow morning at 10am. We’re on the third floor of Senate House, London. Hope to see some of you there!