Mimesis’s ghosts
Caricature and anamorphosis
in Spectral Dickens
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The first chapter explores the creative explosion of caricature in the early nineteenth century as a type of characterization that offers an alternative to mimetic forms such as realism, and in particular to that of portraiture. The term caricature is often used in relation to Dickens’s characters, and has been from the beginning, but critics have rarely stopped to consider what caricature is and what it has to offer as a nonmimetic form of representation. Chapter 1 looks at how caricature offers a destabilizing potential for representing subjectivity at the very moment that mimetic portraiture is reinforcing a certain seemingly unassailable egocentric display of the subject. Caricature counters the image of the mirror implied in mimesis with a gesture of distortion that haunts the mimetic self-image of the subject with a spectral element. This dreamlike distortion, or anamorphosis, has not only destabilizing but in fact revolutionary potential, as illustrated by the origin of this creative explosion, the political lithographic artwork of the French caricaturists, Daumier, Philipon, and Grandville. This chapter explains why anamorphosis in particular has both ontological and political implications.

Spectral Dickens

The uncanny forms of novelistic characterization

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