Friends of the Dickens Forum,

    Robert Newsom <[log in to unmask]>  directs our attention to the development of the character of Mr. Pickwick,
who did not spring full-blown from anyone's head:                                                                                                (pjm)
[log in to unmask]" type="cite">

I do not mean to continue the controversy, but I do want to point out that
in our discussion of "Mr. Pickwick" we have been treating him as a static
figure, dreamt up in an instant, as it were, by Dickens or Seymour or
whomever. (Dickens himself encourages this notion by saying "I thought of
Mr. P. and wrote the first number.)

But the Mr. Pickwick whom we first see presiding over his club is very
different from the Mr. Pickwick who enters and is transformed by the fleet.
Pickwick grows or evolves enormously in the course of the novel. And the
novel grows and evolves. So too does Dickens.

The first Pickwick Dickens characterizes as "immortal," but that is surely
tinged with as much irony as hopefulness. Pickwick the President has much
about him that is simply foolish (even if philosophers argue seriously
about what constitutes "the Pickwickian sense.") The latter Pickwick is a
much greater being. That he is immortal now follows from his growth and
Dickens's.

On Sun, Jun 14, 2015 at 8:11 PM, Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]
wrote:

      
Friends of the Dickens Forum,

    The major focus of the present discussion is what is called "Dickens
Bashing"  and also the
extent accusations against him, for example on  the originality of his Mr.
Pickwick, his treatment
of Catherine after the failure of his marriage, and the Ellen Turner
affair affect our larger sense of the
man Dickens.  We seems now to be focusing on the Seymour-Pickwick matter.

    Rob Lapides is not alone in thinking that whatever the precise extent
of his debt
to Robert Seymour (Walter Smith concurs) the issue "in no way lessons
Dickens's amazing
achievement in  *Pickwick Papers*" and does not "harm his reputation as a
writer."

    John Danza <[log in to unmask]> has researched the question of
what went
on in those months of 1836 when *Pickwick Papers* was a-borning. He says
credit for thinking
of the club and "hatch[ing] the project" belongs to Seymour, right
enough;  Dickens ran with the idea.
When Dickens claimed about a decade later in the preface to the Cheap
Edition,, "I thought of
Mr. Pickwick, and wrote the first number," he wrote a "famously
tantalising sentence."  For surely
Mr. Pickwick's birth was a complicated affair.

    Yes, tantalising it is, Michael Slater, as you said in in your
wonderfully detailed and accurate biography of Dickens.
To read your entries on "Seymour, Robert" is to get as full an account as
we have.   We add only (thanks to a
reminder from Tony Pointon)  that in his last statement Seymour wrote that
no one was to be blamed
for his suicide but himself.

    As a group, we do not want to get into a tit-for-tat dispute about the
facts of the matter.   Interpretations
are subtle  and it is easy to get caught up in varying interpretations.
Dickens surely took over the enterprise,
but what was his effect on Seymour?   His letter to the artist in these
crucial months asking him to alter
one of the illustrations can be read as innocuous or as a bumptious demand
from a fledging writer to an
established illustrator.   Tone, how the letter was intended to be read
and how it was read, is crucial.

    John Danza thinks the controversy could have been muted: "Dickens
would not have been harmed in
the least to give Seymour the credit for the idea [of Mr. Pickwick] since
Dickens wrote all the words and
Seymour was involved in the project for all of a couple of months."

    As so, it would seem, the matter rests.

 P. McCarthy
Editor