Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines the importance of Nicholas Nickleby (1838–9) in the place of Dickens’s early canon by looking into the nature of contractual relationships both inside and outside the novel. The book itself expresses extreme anxiety over exactly what constitutes a contract, and this anxiety becomes only more complicated and pronounced when read alongside the extra-textual material that surrounds the novel’s composition. The concept of equity and contractual fairness, for example, which dominates the first half of the novel, cannot be fully understood unless placed in direct conversation with Dickens’s own correspondence and publishing agreements. The ‘this versus that’ approach that emerges from such an examination is something that Dickens constantly grappled with during the first years of his career.
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