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
am referring to Julia Kristeva's Soleil noir: dépression et
mélancolie, Paris, Gallimard, 1987.
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.
"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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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,
(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.
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.
"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
LD, Bk. 1, Ch. 17, 254; Ch. 23, 311; Ch. 34,
(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.
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.
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".
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".
According to Starobinski (1999, 302), a special
role in this interpretation of history was played by the triumph
of Newton's mechanics.
- BACHTIN, M. (1975),
Estetica e romanzo, Torino, Einaudi, 1997.
- BALUS, W. (1998), "From
Mourning to Melancholy: Toward a Phenomenology of the Modern Human
Condition", Analecta Husserliana, 52, pp. 411-18.
- BEER, G. (1983),
Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Nineteenth-Century
Fiction, London, Ark.
- BETTINI, M. (ed.)
(1991), La maschera, il doppio e il ritratto. Strategie
dell'identità, Bari, Laterza.
- BONDI PAGANELLI, M.
(1989), Dickens e il discorso politico. Analisi di una
contraddizione, Modena, Cappelli.
- CAREY, J. (1973), The
Violent Effigy: A Study of Dickens' Imagination, London, Faber and
- COATES, P. (1988), The
Double and the Other: Identity as Ideology in Post-Romantic
Fiction, Basingstoke and London, Macmillan.
- DICKENS, C. (1849-50),
David Copperfield, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1966.
- DICKENS, C. (1855-57),
Little Dorrit, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1967.
- DICKENS, C. (1860-61),
Great Expectations, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1965.
- DICKENS, C. (1864-65),
Our Mutual Friend, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1971.
- DICKENS, C. (1870), The
Mystery of Edwin Drood, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1974.
- FLETCHER, J. and BENJAMIN,
A. (eds.) (1990), Abjection, Melancholy and Love: The Work of
Julia Kristeva, London and New York, Routledge.
- FLUDERNIK, M. (1999),
"Carceral Topography: Spatiality, Liminality and Corporality in
the Literary Prison", Textual Practice, 13, 1, pp.
- FOUCAULT, M. (1961),
Histoire de la folie, Paris, Plon; Madness and Civilization: A
History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, trans. by Richard
Howard, London, Routledge, 1971.
- FUSILLO, M. (1998),
L'altro e lo stesso. Teoria e storia del doppio, Firenze, La Nuova
- FRYE, N. (1970),
"Dickens and the Comedy of Humours", in The Stubborn Structure,
London, Methuen, pp. 219-40.
- GILLMAN, S. K. and PATTEN,
R. L. (1985), "Dickens: Doubles:: Twain: Twins",
Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 39, 4, pp. 441-58.
- HERDMAN, J. (1990), The
Double in Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Basingstoke and London,
- INGHAM, P. (1992),
Dickens, Women and Language, Hemel Hempstead, Harvester
- JOURDE, P. and TORTONESE, P.
(1996), Visages du double: un thème littéraire,
- JUNG, C. (1916-58), La
dinamica dell'inconscio, in Opere, Torino, Boringhieri, 1976, vol.
- KRISTEVA, J. (1987),
Soleil noir: dépression et mélancolie, Paris,
Gallimard; Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia, trans. by Leon
S. Roudiez, New York, Columbia University Press, 1989.
- LAING, R. D. (1959), The
Divided Self, London, Tavistock.
- LEAVIS, F. R. and Q. D.
(1970), Dickens the Novelist, London, Chatto &
- LEPENIES, W. (1969),
Melancholie und Gesellschaft, Frankfurt, Surkamp; Melanconia e
società, Napoli, Guida Editori, 1985.
- LEVINE, G. (1988a),
"Little Dorrit and Three Kinds of Science", in SHATTOCK, J. (ed.),
Dickens and Other Victorians, London, Macmillan, pp.
- LEVINE, G. (1988b),
Darwin and the Novelists: Patterns of Science in Victorian
Fiction, Cambridge and London, Harvard University
- LOCATELLI, A. (1996),
"Paradigmi del doppio nell'episteme vittoriana", Rivista di Studi
Vittoriani, I, 1, pp. 39-59.
- METZ, AYCOCK N. (1990),
"Little Dorrit's London: Babylon Revisited", Victorian Studies,
33, 3, pp. 465-86.
- NOVAK, D. (1997), "If
Re-Collecting Were Forgetting: Forged Bodies and Forgotten Labor
in Little Dorrit", Novel, 31, 1, pp. 21-44.
- QUIRK, R. (1974), The
Linguist and the English Language, London, Edward
- RANK, O. (1925), Il
significato del sosia nella letteratura e nel folklore, Milano,
- ROGERS, R. (1970), The
Double in Literature, Detroit, Wayne State University Press.
- ROMANO, A. (1996), Il
flâneur all'inferno. Viaggi attorno all'eterno fanciullo,
Bergamo, Moretti e Vitali.
- RUTELLI, R. (1979), Il
desiderio del diverso. Saggio sul doppio, Roma,
- SHOWALTER, E. (1987),
The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980,
London, Virago Press.
- SLATER, M. (1983),
Dickens and Women, London, Dent.
- STAROBINSKI, J.
(1961-70), L'occhio vivente. Studi su Corneille, Racine,
Rousseau, Stendhal, Freud, Torino, Einaudi, 1975.
- STAROBINSKI, J. (1999),
Action et réaction: vie et aventures d'un couple, Paris,
Éditions du Seuil.
- STEVENSON, R. L. (1886),
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Oxford and New York,
Oxford University Press, 1987.
- WALL, S. (1998),
Introduction to Little Dorrit, Harmondsworth, Penguin, pp.
- WELSH, A. (1987), From
Copyright to Copperfield: The Identity of Dickens, Cambridge,
Harvard University Press.
- WOLFREYS, J. (1998),
Writing London: The Trace of the Urban Text from Blake to Dickens,
Basingstoke and London, Macmillan.
- YEAZELL, BERNARD R.
(1991), "Do it or Dorrit", Novel, 25, pp. 33-49.
- ZELICOVICI, D. (1982),
"The First Chapter of Little Dorrit", Ariel: A Review of
International English Literature, 13, 2, pp. 47-64.