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date: 15 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

By dwelling first on the ‘faults’, then on the ‘excellencies’ remarked by reviewers and critics of Little Dorrit, this chapter also traces the history of that novel’s critical reception as it evolved from a close focus on contemporary politics and economics toward a study of the writer’s Hogarthian skill at building a visual satire. Subsequently the characters’ psychology as well as Dickens’s became the object of critical enquiry. When visual studies brought to the fore the import of perception and its narrative function, another area of investigation opened, in this chapter specifically connected with, and culturally encoded in, the technique of the stereoscope and the scientific notion of the binocularity of vision. Implemented by Dickens in the construction of Little Dorrit, this notion allows for a further critical reading of the novel as lieu de mémoire where real and imagined imprisonments, inscribed in history, also conjure the scene where cultural memory rewrites individual and collective identity in the present.

Keywords: visual quality, imprisonment, bureaucracy, lieu de mémoire, stereoscope, heteroglossia, parallelism, Dante

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