Dickens and science: Summaries of contibutions related to science in "Household Words" and "All the Year Round" with an introduction

Lai, Shu-Fang (1999) Dickens and science: Summaries of contibutions related to science in "Household Words" and "All the Year Round" with an introduction. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The study is an attempt to find a reasonable basis on which to form an estimate of Dickens's knowledge of science as far as it can be seen in his two weekly journals, Household Words and All the Year Round. Some recent and influential criticism on Dickens by commentators such as George Levine, Gillian Beer and their followers, has pioneered the study of Dickens and Science, and their ideas have also been popularised by Peter Ackroyd, Dickens's major biographer currently in print. They argue or imply that Dickens's knowledge of science was considerable, and that science is part of the very form of his novels, including Bleak Home, Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend and Great Expectations. However their assertion that Dickens's understanding of the second law of thermodynamics, "entropy," and Darwin's evolutionary theories in his Origin of Species (1859) have influenced his writing is highly questionable, and there is the need to examine what evidence there is for Dickens's knowledge of science in his life, letters, speeches, his library and the journals he edited. A preliminary survey of the scientific works in Dickens's library was undertaken for my M. Litt. The present study continues this work by investigating science in Dickens's journals, and by offering brief summaries of their articles on scientific subjects. An introduction discusses questions about the extent of Dickens's supervision. It looks at reasons for doubting whether it was as close as has sometimes been thought, the problems of inferring Dickens's own views on scientific subjects, and how we can decide whether the articles reflect his personal ideas about creation, man and the universe. The introduction also looks at some of the writers who contributed scientific articles; it shows that, with few exceptions, they were journalists or laymen, and examines how they conveyed to general readers accounts of the new discoveries in astronomy, geology, chemistry and physics. The relationship between Dickens's journals and his fiction is of critical significance. This cross-boundary exploration of Dickens and his journals in relation to science aims to find a reliable methodology for studying Victorian periodicals based on actual reading of them.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: K J Fielding
Keywords: English literature
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-71897
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 09:31
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71897

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