Dickens Redressed: The Art of Bleak House and Hard Times
With Bleak House and Hard Times, Charles Dickens inaugurated a series of novels now known as "later Dickens"--works with a darker mood and more strident satire than his earlier fiction. Though these two novels continue to be immensely popular, they are only partly understood, Alexander Welsh contends. In this sequel to his critically acclaimed From Copyright to Copperfield, Welsh closely examines the two novels Dickens wrote after David Copperfield and reassesses the importance of this crucial stage of Dickens's career.
In spite of the famous double narrative of Bleak House, says Welsh, the various actions and roles of the characters answer the needs of the protagonist much as they do in David Copperfield. Dickens redresses himself as the female narrator Esther Summerson and at the same time redirects his artistic energy in forms less explicitly personal. When he wrote Hard Times--which can be considered an epilogue to the much longer Bleak House--Dickens was able to conceive a plot neither centered around a hero nor fueled by the kind of wish fulfillment that structure had implied. Welsh's engaging discussion and original insights into two of Dickens's most successful novels will enhance the enthusiast's pleasure in reading these works and inspire longtime students of the novelist to think about Dickens's extraordinary accomplishments in new ways.