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date: 15 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter on a novel concerning both a younger and an older view of the same life story is about the equivocal intelligence of second thought, its place and its pain in relation to both emotional primacies and adult requirements. The emotional intelligence and imaginative memory work involved in the writing of David Copperfield—including the secret work of Dickens in his manuscript revisions—seeks adulthood without disillusionment, and continuity across rather than despite experiential breaches. Instead of a model of mental synthesis as offered by a contemporary thinker such as J. C. Hare—of first and second thoughts reconciled dialectically in a unifying third—it achieves a complex blending of first and second thoughts, of past and present, consciousness and unconsciousness, to precipitate a third understanding of reality through art: an inextricable amalgam of experience revealed as the novel’s own ‘mind of the heart’ and registered most particularly in the dense maturity of syntax. It is argued, against the hermeneutics of suspicion, that Dickens’s thinking, in its relation to perceived and recalled reality, is not merely sentimental but of a finally metaphysical force.

Keywords: David Copperfield, memory, emotion, second thoughts, adulthood, manuscript revision

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