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The Pleasures of MemoryLearning to Read with Charles Dickens$
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Sarah Winter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823233526

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823233526.001.0001

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The Pleasures of Memory, Part II

The Pleasures of Memory, Part II

Epitaphic Reading and Cultural Memory

(p.177) 4. The Pleasures of Memory, Part II
The Pleasures of Memory

Sarah Winter

Fordham University Press

This chapter begins by investigating Dickens's creation of narrative plots around the functions of the associative memory in Sketches by Boz and Nicholas Nickleby. Focusing in turn on Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, and Little Dorrit, the chapter shows how these serials extend the associative powers of memory beyond the narrative itself, working out a technique to pattern the reader's own associations with the novel, or pleasures of memory, by creating memories of reading that become analogous to everyday experience through repeated and collective re-reading. Each of these techniques also involves framing the facsimile experience generated by serial reading as “epitaphic,” or as working through prosopopoeia, by invoking a character, a memory, or the figure of the author as its personification. In this way, reading becomes a means of connecting with absent others and thus a form of cultural memory. By analogy, readers' shared memories of reading Dickens's serial novels leverage participation in a reading audience that could also function as a social activist constituency for solving the problem of poverty.

Keywords:   epitaphic reading, prosopopoeia, virtual memories of reading, Humean epistemology, Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, Little Dorrit, cultural memory, mass culture

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