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July 25, 2010

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Actually, almost all Dickens researchers know that Dickens was not a Utilitarian. He was influenced in his early years by some Benthamite ideas (only a few of them), but these were later uprooted by his devotion to Carlyle, who was certainly not a Utilitarian (though he was friends with Mill). A good article to reference for this is Michael Goldberg's article "From Bentham to Carlyle: Dickens' Political Development" in the Journal of the History of Ideas, 1972 (it's easy to find in JSTOR). Michael Slater also makes a very clear case for this in his new biography, which you've mentioned reading before.

Good points, Katie -- but I was actually talking about Unitarianism, not Utilitarianism. (Easy mistake to make. I almost typed "Utilitarianism" as I was writing the review. :-) )

That article sounds good, though. I'll have to look it up sometime.

Thanks for the reviews! I'd be interested in reading that first book, if our library gets it.

The Colledge book sounds very interesting (especially as I am very interested in religious history and theological hairsplitting, having two or three theology degrees of my own...).

I guess I should have waited to drink my second cup of coffee before I commented :-) The Goldberg article is really good, though, especially if you are at all interested in Dickens' political ideas (which, as you know, are tricky to tie down). I just wrote a paper about this and can be rather quick to jump on claims of Dickens being a follower of one theory or another.

Are you going to publish your paper? I'd love to read it.

Right now it's just a grad application writing sample. I hope to focus my research eventually on Dickens' politics, as well as his theory of benevolence, but right now I'm just a grad school applicant (people like me are dangerous because we think we know more than we do, so we wield our little daggers of knowledge like they're broadswords--all of this to say I don't think I will try to publish anything until I grow up further and become more familiar with the literature). You are very kind for your interest, though.

That sounds like a great subject for research. Best wishes!

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WELCOME

  • A blog for all things Dickens -- quotes, reflections, adaptations, references and tributes from other authors, and more.

Happy 200th, Mr. Dickens!

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