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date: 18 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reads Dickens as ‘world literature’, in the sense that his writing constitutes ‘literature of the world-system—of the modern capitalist world-system’. Perhaps more than any other English writer of the period, it argues, Dickens captured the wide-ranging, empowered, profitable yet inherently uneven, unequal way that Britain in general, and London in particular, worked at the heart of nineteenth-century globalized modernity. It comprises three sections: first, it examines how Dickens’s fiction refuted the idea of British-led globalization as a free-flowing, fast-acting, all-encompassing phenomenon; second, it shows that at the same time Dickens’s novels revealed frictionally forceful, historically dynamic, materially significant global connections within the metropolitan topographies he represented; third, it draws on the theory of combined and uneven development as it considers how Dickens’s writing can be understood with regard to the socially divisive, violent impact of globalizing industrial capitalism—upon his own nation as well as the world beyond its shores.

Keywords: combined and uneven, Dickens, globalized modernity, world literature, world-system

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