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date: 16 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

While much recent criticism has traced Charles Dickens’s fascination with such subjects as dreams, mesmerism, and insanity, relatively little has been written about his various interventions in the debate that most roiled psychology during his lifetime, the struggle to define the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body. The stakes of this debate seemed, to many Victorians, as high as could be: at issue was the very possibility of immortality. This chapter traces Dickens’s efforts, in his fiction and his journalism, to take the side of a conservative dualist psychology in this debate, to insist on an immaterial and immortal soul. But through a reading of Little Dorrit, this chapter also reveals how difficult such a position was to maintain against the materialist theories of mind that seemed to be in the ascendant in the second half of Dickens’s career.

Keywords: Dickens, psychology, dreams, mesmerism, insanity, mind, soul, body, dualism, materialism

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