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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 8 Jul 2016 11:26:22 -0700
text/plain (45 lines)
Friends of the Dickens Forum,

     Tony Pointon <[log in to unmask]>  follows up on Susan 
Jhirad's  broaching
of a fascinating question:                                             
> Susan Jhirad's comments on Miss Wade's history touch on something so often
> missed in Dickens: his deep psychological insight. With Miss Wade, he is
> dealing with a subject which was virtually taboo at the time, and remained
> so well into the second half of the twentieth century; it is not
> surprising, therefore, that he was cautious in his treatment of the topic,
> although he provides enough insight for those with eyes to see. If the
> "normal" sexuality of women was virtually disguised for so long, one could
> not expect him to open the door fully on the situation of Miss Wade. When
> Susan correctly refers to Dickens as portraying the relationship in the
> story as "profoundly unhealthy", it is clear that it is unhealthy to the
> two parties because it is having to be supressed.
> Tony Pointon
> On 8 July 2016 at 01:05, Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Friends of the Dickens Forum,
>>      We take it that Robert Tracy's textual question about the
>> Self-Tormentor has had
>> an answer.  Now Susan Jhirad  ([log in to unmask] net) asks a
>> question about the meaning of her
>> "history."  Often raised, the query is worth raising again now: (pjm)
>> Not being a literary scholar, merely a close and ardent reader of Dickens,
>> I cannot answer your question. I do find, however, the "History of a
>> Self-Tormentor" one of the most curious and enigmatic pieces in all of
>> Dickens. Why give so much space, indeed a whole chapter and narrative, to a
>> character he apparently dislikes? Is her story about class shame and pride(
>> certainly a recurrent theme in Dickens' life and novels) or is it, as some
>> have asserted, about homosexuality? Certainly Miss Wade's bizarre
>> relationship with Tattycoram- their feeding on each other's resentments- is
>> portrayed by Dickens as profoundly unhealthy, two souls "tearing each other
>> to pieces." Yet she is given a chance to tell her own story, and hence
>> deserves some sympathy. Why? This to me is more interesting than whether or
>> not the first draft had it as a formal narrative or not. I would love to
>> hear from Dickens lovers and scholars.