Spectral character
Dreams, distortion, and the (cut of the) Real
in Spectral Dickens
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Chapter 2 demonstrates how dreams and distortion, as spectral forms, hold political and symbolic potential for refiguring the way we think about subjectivity or the idea of a person. The central mechanism of these forms of representation is anamorphosis, whether literally or figuratively, which is a means of shifting the point of perspective outside of the subject, a gesture of desubjectification that spectralizes the egocentric model of portraiture. The character of Rosa Dartle, from David Copperfield, provides a key example of this gesture of desubjectification inflicted upon the mimetic subject in the form of her scar. This chapter also looks at how Dickens and his illustrator, Phiz, engage in a specular play—a play between the visual and the verbal—that is inspired by the dreamlike distortions developed in the visual language of the lithograph, especially by Daumier and Grandville. This specular play exposes the “gaze” (in Lacan’s sense of the term) that is concealed in portraiture and it is explored through themes of imitation and play throughout The Pickwick Papers.

Spectral Dickens

The uncanny forms of novelistic characterization

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