Herbert F. Tucker, “Verse Visa: Dickens Adapts Poetry in The Old Curiosity Shop” (pp. 433–451)

In Charles Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop (1841), Dick Swiveller’s hilariously eclectic misquotation of popular verse coexists with Dickens’s own grave proclivity to fall into unlineated yet incantatory blank verse when orchestrating the death of Little Nell. These complementary prose effects freshly showcase the novelist’s joint commitments to humorous and pathetic renditions of the modern condition. They also underscore the coalescence of the novel as such, circa 1840, out of a miscellany of barely compatible ingredients, as the still-burgeoning genre sought to displace, whether by sidelining or by incorporation, poetry’s millennial prestige.

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