17

The claim that ‘Dickens invented the scary clown’ seems to be rooted in the work of Andrew McConnel Scott, Professor of English at the University of Buffalo, through his paper ‘Clowns on the Verge of a nervous breakdown: Dickens coulrophobia and the Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi' where Through a focus on the career of the British pantomimist Joseph Grimaldi (...


14

The phrase "do the same" refers to what Mrs. Joe is doing with her cleanliness: making it more uncomfortable, although it should be theoretically better, than dirt. This is the same as how "some people" make their religion more uncomfortable than ungodliness. I saw a quote recently which would be apt here; I don't remember the exact words,...


11

A man may have a fancy as to the particulars of how he takes his own life, but here are a couple of things which may have informed his choice. He may have found the shimmering, iridescent paleness of Mother of Pearl to have some heavenly quality which would make it a more jarring tool for the commission of an act of suicide, considered at that time to be a ...


11

The word “flat” is used here in the sense flat n. C.5.b. A tract of low-lying marshy land; a swamp. Oxford English Dictionary. If you weren’t familiar with this sense of the word, you might guess it from the description of the landscape earlier in the chapter: Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the ...


10

Dickens had a variety of motivations in writing A Christmas Carol. Financial. Dickens earned a living as an author, and sales of his previous novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, were slowing. As a result, his publishers were threatening to reduce his income. At the same time, his wife was expecting a fifth child so his expenses were due to increase. He needed to ...


9

The quotation Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains is proverbial and dates to the late 19th century, more or less around Dickens's time. However, nothing like it is found in any of his novels or published letters. If he said it in an after-dinner speech, we have no records of the rest of the speech. Nor do we know when or to what audience he is ...


9

In the book Charles Dickens in Context, by Sally Ledger and Holly Furneaux, quoting from Google Books: [Survival] for both playwright and playhouse required the rapid production of new scripts. To keep up this frantic pace, dramatists cut corners, claiming as their own scripts they merely translated from a foreign language, closely mimicking ...


9

He appears to be using it in a sarcastic manner. He is saying that they are so stupid, that he'll call them geniuses. It's like when someone says: "Washington DC is the capital of the United States?" "Yes, you genius!" You don't mean that they are actually super smart. In this case, and I'll tell you what's more-I think these two geniuses, whoever ...


9

“Mum” is a dialect spelling of “ma’am”, a shortened form of “madam” that was “formerly the ordinary respectful form of address to a woman” (OED). Here are a couple of examples, in both cases a servant addressing a woman of higher social status: … for not to be immediately forthcoming when called for, was regarded as a grave and inexcusable offence: not only ...


8

Dickens was inspired to write this scene by a visit to St James’ Church in Cooling, Kent, where he saw these stone sarcophagi in the graveyard: (Photo by Hywel Williams, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.) The sarcophagi mark the location of the bodies of thirteen children from the Baker and Comport families who died between 1771 and 1779, aged from one to ...


7

"dread" - being frightened that something worrying would happen "rapture" - ecstasy - but can also mean "a state of being carried away by overwhelming emotion" From my point of view, the thieves were not happy. Instead, they were carried away by the overwhelming fear they felt when Mr. Jaggers had eye contact with them. Mr. ...


6

Yes, it refers to cricket, with the wicket-keeper being the fielder behind the wicket, who has dedicated equipment and is frequently called on to catch the ball. The catcher in baseball is similar. It's a position requiring focus and fast reflexes, as Dickens describes. You can get a sense of the skills required of top wicket-keepers in this video. Miriam-...


6

Fred R. Shapiro's The Yale Book of Quotations attributes "Genius . . . an infinite capacity for taking pains" to "Jane Ellice Hopkins, English reformer, 1836–1904" in Work Amongst Working Men ch. 4 (1870). The 1884 fifth edition of that book (with the author's name given as Ellice Hopkins) is available at the Internet Archive, and the quotation can be found ...


6

That speech is a response to Pip's "good night". ‘Goo-good night, sir,’ I faltered. ‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!’ Here I believe "Much of that!" is short for "[Not] much [chance] of that!" (although this is not a common contraction, so I may be mistaken). ...


5

A Bill of Exchange is a financial instrument which promised to pay money after a fixed period, was signed by the person drawing the instrument up and the 'acceptor', who was the person responsible for paying the money signed it to prove they agreed to it. There would usually be a three day grace period, to allow the acceptor time to get the cash together ...


5

Dickens is describing Pip's first encounter with a convict, Magwitch. in a coarse gray This is shorthand for "coarse gray cloth". It is uncommon, but not unfamiliar, in English to describe clothes by the cut of their cloth. So you might say of a wealthy lady that she was "in a fur" or "in furs" to mean a fur coat. In fact, I ...


5

In the context of this sentence, "raw" refers to the weather. The following definition from Wiktionary applies here: Unpleasantly cold or damp. So Pip is saying that the weather that evening was unpleasantly cold or damp. (Later in the same chapter, the escaped convict is described as "glancing about him over the cold wet flat". The ...


5

“A sort of Hercules in strength” is easy. The mythical Hercules was renowned for his strength, for example in the eleventh labour where (in one version) he holds up the sky, in place of Atlas, while the latter fetches the golden apples of the Hesperides. Joe Gargery is a blacksmith, a profession requiring strength for the forging of metal objects. Pip says ...


5

A fuller quotation sets the context better: At that time jails were much neglected, and the period of exaggerated reaction consequent on all public wrongdoing—and which is always its heaviest and longest punishment—was still far off. So, felons were not lodged and fed better than soldiers (to say nothing of paupers), and seldom set fire to their prisons ...


4

John Forster's 'Life of Charles Dickens' published in several editions in the early 1870s includes the useful line We are to observe also that it is never anything complete that is thus taken from life by a genuine writer, but only leading traits, or such as may give greater finish; While this was written in regard to the identification of real life ...


4

His given name is "Doctor Marigold" The manner of how Marigold got his name is explained in the first two paragraphs: I am a Cheap Jack, and my own father’s name was Willum Marigold. It was in his lifetime supposed by some that his name was William, but my own father always consistently said, No, it was Willum. On which point I content myself ...


4

In Nicholas Nickleby, Dickens uses the word genius thirty-three times, using five out of the ten major senses of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary. There must be a deliberate playfulness in employing the word in so many of its meanings. Here’s a survey of the various senses employed: Chapter 1: Its boarding-houses are musical, and the notes of ...


4

The stranger is an associate of Magwitch. I have no particular evidence to support this, beyond commonly accepted interpretations of the text, which are based on a series of circumstancial observations. First, the stranger has Magwitch's file. Pip is certain that it is the same file and the stranger shows it to Pip in a semi-secretive manner, using it to ...


4

The use of the work "obelisk" is most likely a malapropism here. The narrator is confusing the less familiar word basilisk with the more familiar word obelisk. An obelisk is a type of monument and won't cast any glances at anyone. The basilisk, by contrast, is a legendary reptile reputed to be a serpent king who can cause death with a single glance. ...


3

The Articles of War are (and were, since before Dickens's time) the official regulations defining the scope of military and naval discipline in the UK. They were read on ceremonial occasions and on occasions when a commander felt that discipline was lax. To "read the Articles of War" was the martial equivalent of "reading the riot act". In this passage,...


3

Is there any evidence in the book (or comments by Dickens) that points to who this man is? Aside from the fact which B.W. pointed out in the text you quoted I knew that he knew my convict the text is absolutely explicit in Chapter 28 that the man who stirs his drink with the file, and gives Pip the two one-pound notes is (at that time) a discharged ...


3

He's basically saying that he hasn't referred to the way he was received, or allowed the way he was received to influence what he has written. He says that if he had done either of those things he would have failed to express the real depth of the appreciation he really felt toward the people he met. He describes the people as having been generous towards ...


3

In addition to the OED entry for salt, there is this entry for ‘pepper and salt’ With reference to the pungency or biting quality of pepper: intensity (of feeling), spirit, vigour; ‘spice’. To illustrate the usage the definition includes this quote from the 1887 New Orleans Lantern But let me commence my assault on the offending ones and give them pepper ...


3

Dickens seems to have encountered plenty of muzzles in America. In Martin Chuzzlewhitt (which Adam Burke mentioned) part of his criticism of the country concerns the ubiquity of guns. Mr. Chollop [ . . . ] always introduced himself to strangers as a worshipper of Freedom; was the consistent advocate of Lynch law, and slavery; and invariably recommended, ...


2

As well as the definitions of the words explained by @Spagirl, there is some context from Dickens' life. Dickens made two tours of America, decades apart, and they went very differently. On the 1842 tour, after a warm welcome, he became exhausted with American fans while touring as a celebrity, including the many people trying to leverage his fame for ...


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