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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
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Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 12 Jul 2004 21:35:37 -0700
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Friends of the Forum,

        Ken Mogg <[log in to unmask]> has been reading a fine
Dickens story and a book of essays by F.R. and Queenie Leavis:    (pjm)
There was reference to 'George Silverman's Explanation' recently on the
Forum, wasn't there?

Pursuing my reading and/or re-reading of some of D's shorter fiction, I
went back and looked again at that remarkable late work at the weekend.
Then I  looked at the apposite few pages in Mrs Leavis's "How we must
read GREAT EXPECTATIONS" in _Dickens the Novelist_.

I hope that you or the Forum will comment on a puzzlement I have.  (I am
perfectly prepared to be put in my place for being obtuse.)  Most of
Leavis's exegesis seems excellent to me, and I was grateful to have
pointed out how Brother Hawkyard  has probably embezzled George's
inheritance from his grandfather - something I had not picked up.

But do you and the Forum agree with Leavis when she construes that
George finally succumbs to the 'worldliness' he has always dreaded, and
that in marrying the lovers Adelina Fareway and Granville Wharton he
does it for reasons of his own self-approval?  That is, the mercenary
Lady Fareway's angry accusation that George has been prompted by the
profit motive - by which she means money, but Leavis interprets in a
figurative sense - is true?

I know that CD several times employed - or thought to employ - the phrase
'nobody's fault' to various of his works (e.g., it was among the
rejected titles for HARD TIMES).  I would have thought that such a
phrase might suitably have hung in the air at the end of 'George
Silverman's Explanation', whose extraordinary ambiguity in that respect
seems to me undercut by Leavis.

I would add that Leavis appears to disregard the story's last paragraph,
in which George reports his seeming vindication.  George writes: 'They
stood by me, Adelina and her husband, through it all.  Those who had
known me at College, and even most of those who had only known me there
by reputation, stood by me too.  Little by little, the belief widened
that I was not capable of what was laid to my charge.  At length I was
presented to a College-Living in a sequestered place, and there I now
pen my explanation.  I pen it in my open window in the summer-time;
before me, lying the churchyard, equal resting-place for sound hearts,
wounded hearts, and broken hearts. ...'

The affinity with the approaching EDWIN DROOD is surely evident.  May I
add, Forum members, that I also think of Kierkegaard's essay on "Purity
of Heart"?

- Ken Mogg.