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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 9 Jul 2016 10:57:08 -0700
text/plain (74 lines)
Friends  of the Dickens Forum,

     We had worried a trifle that someone would quote from one or other 
attempt by an -ist of
some sort or other to label Miss Wade.  The fit would almost certainly 
be awkward.  Now
Robert Newsom <[log in to unmask]>, wary of such traps, sees Miss 
Wade as
best compared to others of CD's characters:   (pjm)
> It was Lionel Trilling who first pointed out that Miss Wade is "the exact
> inversion of Esther Summerson." I think he was right, and that fact alone
> might account for her being given the chance to tell her own story in the
> first person and why we might find it interesting. She marks a path down
> which Esther might well have gone. In *Bleak House* we have an inversion of
> Esther in Mlle. Hortense. Of course Amy Dorrit bears many similarities with
> Esther and is also an opposite of Miss Wade.
> On Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 11:26 AM, Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]
>> wrote:
Friends of the Dickens Forum,

  Tony Pointon <[log in to unmask]> follows up on Susan Jhirad's 
broaching  a fascinating question:
>>           (pjm)
>>> 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.