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Dickens and race$
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Dr. Laura Peters

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780719064265

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719064265.001.0001

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Fancy, cosmopolitanism and racial difference: Our Mutual Friend and The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Fancy, cosmopolitanism and racial difference: Our Mutual Friend and The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Chapter:
(p.123) 5 Fancy, cosmopolitanism and racial difference: Our Mutual Friend and The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Source:
Dickens and race
Author(s):

Peters Laura

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719064265.003.0006

Chapter five focuses on the 1860s as the period immediately after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species. It also focuses on a time when Dickens feels the power of fancy abating and his own relationship to fancy changing. In Our Mutual Friend Dickens explores the production of savagery in the midst of civilisation, tracing the prehistoric remnants in the narrative. The chapter also traces the continuing power of the exotic and fancy in the same narrative. The articulated specimens in Venus’s shop and in Society more broadly introduce the overlapping ideas of specimen, species, development and race. This overlap later manifests itself in the figure of the gorilla in a treatise written by Dickens’s friend Professor Richard Owen. The arrival of this specimen in the British Museum causes Dickens to revisit the British museum. This arrival also stimulates Dickens’s thinking regarding migrants, degeneration and race. In The Mystery of Edwin Drood Dickens explores the presence of racial difference at the heart of civilisation.

Keywords:   Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, Specimen, Anatomy, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Cosmopolitanism, Empire, Dullborough Town, On an Amateur Beat, A Star in the East

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