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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

For the last half-century, in a reversal of a long-standing critical position, Dickens has been regarded as engaged with the science of his day, particularly that associated with the laws of thermodynamics; with theories of the evolution of the universe and of life as promulgated in Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, the nebular hypothesis, and Darwin’s Origin of Species; and with geology and the representation of geological change. This chapter summarizes and assesses the criticism on Dickens’s relationship to science and on the role of science in his periodicals, Household Words and All the Year Round, and in his fiction. It argues that the work of historians of Victorian science in recent decades now enables us to see Dickens as not just interested in science, but immersed in the textual and visual culture of display in Victorian popular science.

Keywords: thermodynamics, evolution, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, nebular hypothesis, Charles Darwin, geology, visual culture, popular science

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