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Dickens and DemolitionLiterary Afterlives and Mid-Nineteenth Century Urban Development$
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Joanna Hofer-Robinson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474420983

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474420983.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 13 October 2019

Dickensian Afterlives and the Demolition of Field Lane

Dickensian Afterlives and the Demolition of Field Lane

(p.91) Chapter 3 Dickensian Afterlives and the Demolition of Field Lane
Dickens and Demolition

Joanna Hofer-Robinson

Edinburgh University Press

Field Lane was envisioned as a nexus of crime, overcrowding, foreignness, social unrest and insanitary conditions in representations of the district in multiple media and contexts in the mid-nineteenth century. In London more widely, these anxieties helped to shape how improvements were conceived, and which places were targeted for demolition. This chapter presents evidence that the improvements promised by advocates of Field Lane’s redevelopment were repeatedly articulated and conceptualised through references to Oliver Twist. For example, by emphasising its association with Fagin and Bill Sikes to draw attention to the slum as a dangerous locale. Focusing on appropriations of Dickens’s works in newspapers, periodicals and parliamentary debates, the chapter traces a proliferation of Dickensian afterlives in commentaries on Field Lane’s improvement before, during and after its demolition. Of course, as is the case with all the afterlives analysed in this book, the novel was variously appropriated, even when users commented on the same site or descriptive passage. However, it is in this instability that we can see how Dickensian afterlives were put to work in arguments for Field Lane’s demolition. His fiction provided a mobile and rhetorically effective vocabulary, which was easily manipulated to serve numerous interests.

Keywords:   Dickens, Afterlives, Demolition, Field Lane, Fagin, Oliver Twist, Newspapers, Periodicals, Slum, Appropriation

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