Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dickens Birthday: Social Dreaming: Dickens and the Fairy Tale by Elaine Ostry

The black box/ book cover above is for Social Dreaming: Dickens and the Fairy Tale (Studies in Major Literary Authors) by Elaine Ostry. This should be of particular interest to those who want to read more about Dickens and fairy tales, of course.

Book description:

Dickens was known for his incredible imagination and fiery social protest. This book shows how Dickens used the fairy tale to express his political and social views and helped establish it as an important literary genre for the Victorian Public. Drawing on exciting new criticism by Jack Zipes, Maria Tartar and others, and covering all of Dickens's works, Social Dreaming sheds valuable socio-historical light on the fairy tale as a social tool. This book also includes a lengthy examination of Dickens's periodicals - the most popular middle-class publications in Victorian times - a largely neglected area of Dickens's criticism. The work will be of interest to Dickens scholars, students of Victorian Literature, and children's literature specialists.

And here's an excerpt from the introduction:

The young Charles Dickens did not know how lucky he was to have a nursemaid who scared him silly with her stories. Hut the older Dickens did know, and acknowledged his debt to his nurse, Mary Weller, in his article “Nurse’s Stories” (1860). Throughout his career, Dickens engaged in fairy tales on every level: he wrote them, defended them, alluded to them and used techniques of the genre in his essays and novels. According to Dickens, fancy was the imaginative faculty, and the fairy tale was a literary form that both exemplified and encouraged fancy. Throughout the hook I will be referring to both terms for, in defending fancy, Dickens defends the imagination and the fairy tale in the same breath. Dickens was not a writer who made philosophical or semantic distinctions between related words: for instance, he used the terms fancy, romance, and imagination loosely and interchangeably. He did not distinguish between fancy and imagination the way Coleridge did; indeed, Dickens’s view of fancy is that it is something often more serious than Coleridge’s “mode of memory” (Coleridge 167). According to Philip Collins, fancy “can mean to Dickens anything from colourful jollity and fun, to that imaginative sustenance which should nourish in both children and adults a wisdom of the heart, as well as provide an escape from present sorrow” (Education 91). John P. McGowan defines Dickens’s distinction between reality and fancy thus: “Reality is empirical, while fancy designates the nonmaterial mental processes associated with the romantic praise of the imagination (103). It was a state of mind, whimsical and humorous, in which “everyday reality is reseen imaginatively, even fantastically, but the result increases rather than diminishes our sense of the reality depicted” (H. Stone, “Introduction” 56).

And the Table of Contents:

List of Abbreviations
Ch. 1 Nurse's Stories: Fairy Tales as Cultural Voices 1
Ch. 2 Frauds on the Fairies: Defending Fancy 29
Ch. 3 Monsters and Fairies, Homes and Wildernesses 59
Ch. 4 Dickens's Christmas "Fairy Tales of Home" 79
Ch. 5 The Fairy Tale in Dickens's Periodicals 105
App. A Survey of Criticism on Dickens and the Fairy Tale 131
App. B Perrault's Morals to "Cinderella" 137
Notes 139
Works Consulted 155
Index 193

1 comment:

  1. I'm writing a paper on Dicken's 'Great Expectations' as a male Cinderella story and this book would be a perfect source for it! Any idea where I could find it, or excerpts from it? Keep in mind that I'm a poor student!