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The Erotics of Barnaby Rudge

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The eroticism of Barnaby Rudge has been undervalued. In this novel, Dickens plays both with and against Victorian gender norms to heighten sexual tensions between Dolly and Hugh, Dolly and her father, and Emma and Haredale. Dickens further fuels the eroticism of these relationships by aligning it with the violence of the Gordon Riots and the tensions between numerous gendered polarities, such as the urban and the pastoral, parents and children, and past and present. Phiz's suggestive illustrations extend Dickens's erotic descriptions. Barnaby, however, seems devoid of erotic charge, which may explain why the eponymous novel failed to tickle the fancy of many readers.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2009

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  • Founded in 1970, the centennial anniversary of Dickens's death, DSA has been published since 1980 by AMS Press in cooperation with the Ph.D. program in English of the City University of New York and in association with the Graduate Center, CUNY and Queens College, CUNY. Besides presenting articles exploring the wide range of Dickens''s interests and talents, DSA also includes essays on other mid- and late- nineteenth-century authors and on the history and aesthetics of the period's fiction. In addition, each volume contains a substantial review article examining a prior year's scholarship on Dickens, and DSA occasionally publishes surveys of work on other Victorian writers, as well as review essays considering specialized studies of subjects in Victorian fiction. The editors seek to offer essays of "the most diverse kinds," those employing innovative as well as traditional approaches.
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