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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 I

The Pleasures of Memory, Part I

Curiosity as Didacticism in The Old Curiosity Shop

(p.144) 3. The Pleasures of Memory, Part I
The Pleasures of Memory

Sarah Winter

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines one of Dickens's most popular serial novels alongside the religious tracts that were a hallmark of Evangelical propagandizing. Even as it shares with Evangelical tracts certain common associationist assumptions about the effects of reading on the memory, The Old Curiosity Shop contests the cultural politics of the larger evangelical movement by subverting the rhetorical and ideological rationales behind didactic fictions, such as Hannah More's Cheap Repository Tracts and Legh Richmond's Annals of the Poor. Shaping an “anti-didactic” strategy for popular fiction, Dickens's moralizing tale about Little Nell's unjust death counteracts the cultural influence of evangelicalism by substituting a benevolent curiosity and activist sensibility in the place of Evangelical fiction's staging of pious deaths to motivate the reader's religious conversion and social deference.

Keywords:   Evangelical cultural politics, associative memory, didactic fiction, Hannah More, Legh Richmond, Samuel Rogers, The Old Curiosity Shop, curiosity, epistemology, secularization

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