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Idiots, Madmen, and Other Prisoners in Dickens cover
  • ISBN: 9780312085964
  • ISBN10: 0312085966

Idiots, Madmen, and Other Prisoners in Dickens

by McKnight, Natalie

  • List Price: $59.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publish date: 12/01/2001
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This study explores Dickens's fascination with prisoners of private worlds and languages, suggesting that his attitude toward these figures was influenced by nineteenth-century prison and asylum reforms, holy idiot/wise fool traditions, and his own experiences with imprisonment. Through such characters, Dickens rebels against limiting Victorian norms, advocating a greater openness to aberrance. But his treatment of these figures is not consistent; sometimes his own imprisonment in bourgeois norms causes him to marginalize the very characters he wishes to celebrate, particularly his female fools. His conflicting attitudes toward the aberrant dramatically shape his life and work. Influenced by feminism and by Michel Foucault, Dr. McKnight has written a stimulating and challenging book on a key issue in Dickens's fiction.
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