The Night Side of Dickens

Cannibalism, Passion, Necessity

Harry Stone



726 pp. 6x9



“Stone [has] much to contribute. By separating and then interrelating his three subsets, he reaches unique conclusions, especially in the chapter on ‘Necessity.’ . . . Well-considered explanations of illustrations, passages from manuscripts and letters, and even Dickens’s perambulations are of additional interest. Essential for Dickens scholars, this belongs . . . in all research collections.” —Library Journal

The Night Side of Dickens looks beyond the public image of Charles Dickens and his works to examine the startling dark side of the novelist^rsquo;s creative powers, the side where images of cannibalism, unbridled passion, and inexorable fate resided. Harry Stone, one of the preeminent Dickens scholars of our generation, has studied the entire Dickens oeuvre, including the previously unattributed story “The Bride’s Chamber,” a work that provides important new insights into Dickens’ emotional life and creative energies.

By concentrating on the origins and then tracing the astonishing development of three crucial but largely unexamined areas of Dickens' life and art—his obsession with cannibalism, his latter-day experience of and depictions of passion, and his increasing attention to necessity, to behavior that is predetermined and inexorable—Stone offers us an enlarged and deeper appreciation of Dickens' protean art. Employing biographical, psychological, sociological, historical, linguistic, structural, textual, and archetypal techniques, The Night Side of Dickens ranges through the entire Dickens canon, including newly discovered and newly authenticated writings and important unpublished materials. Stone also examines the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary, journalistic, graphic, medical, ethnographic, and other, often exotic, sources that helped shape the way Dickens saw and re-created everyday life. In the course of this wide-ranging odyssey through Dickens’ mind and world, Stone presents the reader with a new and unconventional appreciation of nineteenth-century life and culture, a panorama teeming with humor, horror, and boundless diversity, all brought to vibrant immediacy in 145 full-page illustrations.

A major work of literary scholarship, The Night Side of Dickens offers important insights, not only for Dickens readers and scholars, but for anyone interested in the creative process and in the bright highways and dark byways of nineteenth-century literature and life.

Harry Stone is professor of English at California State University–Northridge. His books include Charles Dickens’ Uncollected Writings from “Household Words,” Dickens and the Invisible World, and Dickens’ Working Notes for His Novels.