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date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter takes as its starting point Dickens’s proximity—first, in childhood, and later, from 1856 onwards—to the Dover Road, arguing that this thoroughfare governs his thinking about travel and motion. Besides serving as the major vehicle of traffic between London and Europe, it was also a route of pilgrimage to Canterbury. Steeped in Bunyan, Dickens thus tended to think of the journey along it as an allegory of the progress of human life towards death. But his travels and travel writing should not be thought of solely in terms of a teleology. He himself distinguishes between purposeful travel and strolling or ‘flânerie’, and his two major travel books, on America and Italy respectively, explore both interconnectedly. Equally, his novels oscillate between picaresque linearity and an emphasis on circularity and stasis, these latter foremost in his last work.

Keywords: Dickens, travel, motion, pilgrimage, progress, allegory, teleology, flânerie, America, Italy

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