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Dickens and Switzerland

Gmür, Christine (2016) Dickens and Switzerland. PhD thesis, University of York.

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The close connections between Charles Dickens’s biography, his literary work and Switzerland have often been overlooked or reduced to a chronology of travel. Yet, his deep personal investment in the country and its people manifests itself in numerous and often unexpected places in his fictional and personal texts. These references are often minor, do not necessarily correspond to traditional narratives about Switzerland and are thus easily dismissed as insignificant. Considered in their entirety, however, they allow a new understanding of Dickens’s interest in and literary reworking of Switzerland. Among his associations with the country were a number of profoundly personal experiences which visibly impacted on his work, style and inspiration. This dissertation looks at and beyond the period of Dickens’s travels to Switzerland during the 1840s and early 50s and considers both earlier and later references as well. Its approach demonstrates that already in his youth, Dickens was familiar with a particular picture of Switzerland through his reading and through various forms of popular entertainment. Too often simplified as a moment of personal and professional crisis, this study shows that his time in Lausanne was more complex and productive than has commonly been understood. It reveals that even in his later years, Dickens’s thoughts often returned to Switzerland and found literal and metaphorical expression in his writing. In essence, this thesis renders visible how Dickens’s experience of Switzerland was not merely episodic and does not stand unconnected to the rest of his life or his literary work, but was a significant and integral part of his imagination and in some ways, even his identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Charles Dickens, Switzerland, Theatre, Travel, Tourism, Victorian Literature and Culture, Nineteenth century, Biography
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Ms Christine Gmur
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2016 12:21
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2016 12:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/15622

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