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Title: Reforming Culture
Contributor(s): Waters, Catherine Mary  (author)
Publication Date: 2006
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Abstract: 'Once - it was after leaving the Abbey and turning my face north - I came to the great steps of Saint Martin's church as the clock was striking Three. Suddenly, a thing that in a moment more I should have trodden upon without seeing, rose up at my feet with a cry of loneliness and houselessness, struck out of it by the bell, the like of which I never heard. We then stood face to face looking at one another, frightened by one another. The creature was like a beetle-browed hare-lipped youth of twenty, and it had a loose bundle of rags on, which it held together with one of its hands. It shivered from head to foot, and its teeth chattered, and as it stared at me - persecutor, devil, ghost, whatever it thought me - it made with its whining mouth as if it were snapping at me, like a worried dog. Intending to give this ugly object, money, I put my hand to stay it - for it recoiled as it whined and snapped - and laid my hand upon its shoulder. Instantly, it twisted out of its garment, like the young man in the New Testament, and left me standing alone with its rags in my hand.' - Charles Dickens, "The Uncommercial Traveller: Night Walks".Dickens's disturbing encounter with this symbol of outcast London on one of his "Night Walks" illustrates the crucial imaginative function of streetwalking as part of his reformist social vision. Nocturnal rambling, for Dickens, served as a vital stimulus to his imagination at the same time as it provided appalling evidence of the social deprivation that drove him to become the leading reformer among contemporary novelists.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Palgrave Advances in Charles Dickens Studies, p. 155-175
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Place of Publication: Houndmills, Basingstoke
ISBN: 1403912858
Field of Research (FOR): 200503 British and Irish Literature
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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