Charles Dickens and the Properties of Fiction

The Lodger World cover

Charles Dickens and the Properties of Fiction: The Lodger World explores Dickens's interest in tenancy. When he was nineteen years old, he wrote a poem for Maria Beadnell, the young woman he wished to marry. The poem imagined Maria as a welcoming landlady offering lodgings to let. Almost forty years later, Dickens died, leaving his final novel unfinished in its last scene, another landlady sets breakfast down for her enigmatic lodger.

These kinds of characters are everywhere in his writing. In nineteenth century Britain the vast majority of people rented, rather than owned, their homes. Instead of keeping to themselves, they shared space renting, lodging, taking lodgers in, or simply living side-by-side in a crowded modern city. Dickens celebrated the fact that their unassuming houses brim with narrative potential: comedies, romances, and detective plots take place behind their doors. Charles Dickens and the Properties of Fiction wedges these doors open.

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