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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 10 Jul 2016 15:50:25 -0700
text/plain (98 lines)
Friends of the Dickens Forum,

     Susan Jhirad has misunderstood our use of the word "ist" and 
applied it to herself.  We hasten
to disabuse her of her mistake.  We were referring to labelers who have 
a ready list
of terms ready-made for putting subjects under discussion.  They are 
famous for packing a subject into a
cookie-cutter of a classification which jams in or utterly cuts off 
distinctive and differentiating elements
of a subject.  The terms frequently, but not always, derive from 
psychological or sociological sources.
That said, here's Susan
Dear Patrick,
> Well, I'm not sure what kind of -"ist" we two modest commentators may be! Am I a feminist (yes!)A Unitarian-Universalist? I plead guilty. However,. after all my 73 years, not "a dogmatist," I hope. I welcome any and all interpretations of Dickens' rich characters, and must agree with Tony Pointon's appreciation of Dickens' depth of characterization; his characters are often more complex than many critics give him credit for, in particular those afforded the privilege of first person narration, including Esther, Pip , David Copperfield, and yes, Miss Wade. As for seeing Miss Wade as "the opposite" of Esther, well, yes that has validity as well. In my book Dickens' Inferno: The Moral World of Charles Dickens , I chose to place Miss Wade in the circle of Dante's "Wrathful," as she seems to be chronically angry. Dante makes room for both the "sullen wrathful' and the overtly wrathful, both of which can be found in Dickens' works (think Roger" Rogue" Riderhood in OMF). So let the interpretations flow- but please, don't stereotype those of us who offer our modest opinions.
> Susan Jhirad
> From: "Patrick McCarthy" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Saturday, July 9, 2016 1:57:08 PM
> Subject: Miss Wade <*Little Dorrit*> as Seen Against Other Characters
> 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.