19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 10 (2010)

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All I Believed is True: Dickens under the Influence

Steven Connor


Dickens’s experiments with mesmerism belonged to a period in which the scientific understanding of the phenomena by experimental investigators began to diffuse into popular forms. Even though explanation and knowledge gradually clustered on the side of professional and elite science, and pure performance became more characteristic of popular expositions and demonstrations of mesmerism, explanation and performance remained closely and intricately intertwined. 

It would be tempting to contend that Dickens asserted and enoyed a comic self-distancing from the often frankly absurd theatrical mechanics of mesmerism. But, this article argues, Dickens was at times at least partly under, as well as beyond reach of the influence.

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