Sommario Culture 2000


1 Originally Dickens intended to title his novel Nobody's Fault with an obvious satirical reference to the irresponsibility of institutions like the Circumlocution Office (Yeazell: 1991, 33). Later the title became Little Dorrit, but "nobody" remained a key word in the text and for both the public and the private plots. With regard to the latter it is mostly Arthur Clennam who employs the term. This defeatist anti-hero, who is making a sorrowful balance of his past life on his return from the Far East and is unhappily in love with Pet Meagles, often defines himself as "nobody" in his melancholic reveries.
2 I am referring to Julia Kristeva's Soleil noir: dépression et mélancolie, Paris, Gallimard, 1987.
3 Evidently Flintwinch and his secret twin, or the villain Rigaud who hides himself under the different names of Blandois and Lagnier in the course of the novel, but is always recognisably himself thanks to a few stereotypical physiognomic traits - the moustache and the chin -, are not very interesting forms of the double, but rather mechanical novelistic devices.
4 The "bosom" is the vain and ostentatious Mrs Merdle who likes wearing low-cut dresses and jewels. Another piquant detail about her rapacity is that her left hand is larger than her right hand.
5 On Dickens as linguist see Randolph Quirk (1974). On the argumentative practices of political discourse in Dickens's fiction and non-fiction, see Marina Bondi Paganelli (1989). Political jargon was quite naturally a main focus of Dickens's satire, since he had experienced it directly as a young man working as a shorthand writer and parliamentary reporter, but in general his entire fiction shows his impatience at the misuse of language.
6 In linguistic description (Fairclough: 1992) the 'ideational' and the 'interpersonal' levels are those two functions of language that answer its two main purposes of cognition and communication respectively.
7 The linguistic construction of social relations and the self (Fairclough: 1992, 137-68) is a main area of investigation of critical discourse analysis that should enhance the awareness of the historical and therefore provisional character of any hegemonic configuration.
8 Fairclough (1995) argues that "in so far as conventions become naturalized and commonsensical, so too do these ideological presuppositions. Naturalized discourse conventions are a most effective mechanism for sustaining and reproducing cultural and ideological dimensions of hegemony. Correspondingly, a significant target of hegemonic struggle is the denaturalization of existing conventions and replacement of them with others" (p. 94).
9 A barnacle is a parasitical crustacean which usually sticks to keels. The human Barnacles are glued in shoals to the ship of Government with nefarious results (LD, Bk. I, Ch. 34, "A Shoal of Barnacles", 450).
10 Some upper-class public officials, among them Sir James Fitzjames Stephen (Virginia Woolf's uncle), found Dickens's criticism of the Civil Service ungenerous, but they were too steeped in their class privileges to be open to its devastating satire (Wall: 1991, XV).
11 Herdman (1990) calls such characters "quasi-doubles". Oppositional quasi-doubles, like Steerforth in David Copperfield (1849-50), or Orlick in Great Expectations (1860-61), dramatise unsolved inner conflicts of the personality they mirror. It is evident, for example, that both Steerforth and Orlick provide oblique insights into the protagonist's drive for violence, which, though repressed, is nevertheless there.
12 In her brilliant and convincing analysis of Dickens's representation of women Patricia Ingham (1992) shows on the basis of accurate linguistic evidence that, in spite of the surface textual reticence, Dickens's women are more knowing than they are thought.

13 The "not doing it" that recurs as a negative refrain throughout the novel has certainly sexual overtones, as Yeazell remarks in her article which focuses on both the erotic and vocational senses of the phrase (1991, 39).

14 LD, Bk. 1, Ch. 17, 254; Ch. 23, 311; Ch. 34, 451.
15 Slater (1983) first discusses Dickens's biography, then analyses the fictional reworking of his female images and stereotypes, the child, the angel, the doll, the Magdalene.
16 An interesting analysis of R. D. Laing's construction of insanity (especially in women) is carried out in Showalter's Female Malady (1987) along a historical perspective that connects Victorian medical practice to modern psychiatry.
17 LD, Bk. I, Ch. 3, 71: "An old brick house, so dingy to as to be all but black, standing by itself within a gateway. (...) It was a double house, with long, narrow, heavily-framed windows. Many years ago, it had had in its mind to slide down sideways; it had been propped up, however, and was leaning on some half-dozen gigantic crutches".
18 As Carey (1973, 16) argues, "Dickens, who saw himself as the great prophet of cosy, domestic virtue, purveyor of improving literature to the middle classes, never seems to have quite reconciled himself to the fact that violence and destruction were the most powerful stimulants to his imagination".
19 According to Starobinski (1999, 302), a special role in this interpretation of history was played by the triumph of Newton's mechanics.
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