Charles Dickens etexts: a course in how to use novels as a catalyst for change by Maryann P. DiEdwardo

Charles Dickens etexts: a course in how to use novels as a catalyst for change.

Maryann DiEdwardo’s “Social justice, Thematic tool and Paradigm in the construction of the novels of Dickens was presented at the Hotel Bethlehem in April 2010 as a part of the Pennsylvania College English Association Spring Conference called “English Studies and Social Justice.”

Why do novelists write? The answer is that characters, setting, mood, voice, and themes dynamically bring us to a state of relaxation and vision to understand truths. Literature is inspirational.

My intention is to provide my readers with tools to research the use of social justice as a reason to write and a methodology of applying the social justice paradigm for writing. Charles Dickens etexts: a course in how to use novels as a catalyst for change.

Dickens seeks to change the cultural actions of society by writing and sharing novels.

Dickens Etexts:

“The Baron of Grogzwig”

An excerpt from Chapter 6 of Nicholas Nickleby which has taken on a life of its own as a separate ghost story – and a moral tale for children (of all ages). This excerpted tale also influenced Edgar Allan Poe’s satire “The Devil in the Belfry.”

– at BlackMask / Munsey’s [various formats]

A Confession Found in a Prison in the Time of Charles the Second” (PDF)

An excerpt from Master Humphrey’s Clock. Charles the Second, btw, reigned from 1660-1685.

“The Chimes” [1844]

Another of Dickens’ Christmas tales. This work, with the delightful subtitle “A Goblin Story of some bells that rang an old year out and a new year in,” was Dickens’ first follow-up to the extremely successful “A Christmas Carol” of the year before. A bit more obviously moralistic than its predecessor, it’s still a charmer….

– at Etext Center, UVa (entire text @ 190K), or Table of Contents. With illustrations, from the 1897 Gads Hill edition.

“A Christmas Carol” [19 December 1843]

Dickens’ most well-known work, widely anthologized and frequently adapted. In a letter to a friend accompanying a copy of this work, this “Ghostly little book” as he said in the preface, Dickens wrote “Over which Christmas Carol Charles Dickens wept and laughed and wept again, and excited himself in a most extraordinary manner in the composition; and thinking whereof he walked about the black streets of London fifteen and twenty miles many a night when all the sober folks had gone to bed.” Dickens’ own night-piece, as it were….

– at Project Gutenberg (178K)

– at (ToC)

– at

— the condensed version of A Christmas Carol

Abridged by Dickens himself for use in his public readings. [1867] (81K) [Gaslight]

— see also David Perdue’s A Christmas Carol page

Featuring a plot synopsis, illustrations from the original edition, character discussions, and more. Part of the excellent Charles Dickens page linked above.

— Interview with Fred Guida

Guida is author of a book on the many cinematic lives of Dickens’ most famous tale. [Gad’s Hill Place]

— Summary and commentary

[Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database, NYU School of Medicine]

— William Makepeace Thackeray’s comments on A Christmas Carol

Thackeray’s brief 1852 remarks. [Jon Michael Varese, Philadelphia Branch of the Dickens Fellowship]

— “Dickens’s Christmas Tree: the Gothic Side of Familiar Things”

By Clotilde de Stasio. Interesting probing of the dark corners of Dickens’ cheery Christmas world. [Carlo Dickens]

“The Haunted House”

This is another one of those Dickensian ghost stories that rather hedges its bets, turning out to be haunted by the narrator’s own self – almost Hawthornesque, actually, especially given the prominent role played by a mirror, one of Hawthorne’s favorite symbols.

– at U Adelaide Library

– as part of The Lock and Key Library, a collection edited by Julian Hawthorne (776K, or the zipped version @ 298K)

– also at HorrorMasters [PDF]

“The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain” [1848] (205K) [Project Gutenberg]

Another of Dickens’ ghostly Christmas tales, this work is a variation on the doppelgänger or “double” motif so prevalent (and so powerful) in the Gothic tradition, with a glance in the direction of the Faustian motif of a deal with the supernatural. A grimmer work than the much more famous A Christmas Carol despite its redemptive ending.

– also at BlackMask [PDF]

The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices [1857]

This work, a largely humorous and fictionalized recounting by Dickens and Wilkie Collins of a walking tour in England, contains, in Chapter IV, the Dickens’ sketch sometimes known as “The Ghost in the Bridal Chamber” or “The Hanged Man’s Bride.” Since this is part of a large (247K) single file, use your browser’s “find” function to locate Chapter IV. (There’s also a nice piece on spending a night with a corpse, sort of, in Chapter II, which I believe is by Collins.)

Need a Drood fix? Click.

The Pickwick Papers [March 1835 – Oct. 1837] (1.7MB)

More formally known as Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, this work is not Gothic or supernaturalist in any way, although it does include several inset ghost stories (usually presented in such a manner as to suggest hoax or drunkenness on the part of the teller). Since this Project Gutenberg etext contains the entire work as one large file, you’ll need to use your browser’s “find” function to locate the following:

“The Bagman’s Story” (Ch. 14)

“A Madman’s Manuscript” (another tale which influenced Edgar Allan Poe)

– also at Matsuoka’s site

“The Story of the Bagman’s Uncle” (Ch. 49)

“The True Legend of Prince Bladud” (Ch. 36)

“The Story of the Goblins who Stole a Sexton” (Ch. 29)

“The Signalman” [1866]

Dickens wrote this tale, also known as “No. 1 Branch Line, the Signalman,” after being himself involved in a trainwreck in which he (and, apparently, his mistress) narrowly escaped injury – an incident that haunted him for the rest of his life.

– at Gaslight (32K)

– at Globusz Press

– as part of the Project Gutenberg collections Three Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens, and The Lock and Key Library, a collection edited by Julian Hawthorne (776K, or the zipped version @ 298K)

“To Be Read at Dusk” [1852]

– Project Gutenberg (38K)

– at Munsey’s / BlackMask [various formats]

“The Trial for Murder” (a. k. a. “To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt”) [1865]

– available as “To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt” [Mitsuharu Matsuoka, Nagoya U] (26K)

– available as “The Trial for Murder at Munsey’s / BlackMask [various formats]

– as part of Three Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens, the Project Gutenberg etext referred to above.

The Uncommercial Traveller [1860]

This work includes, as Chapter 15, “Nurse’s Stories,” a collection of horrific vignettes.

– at Cyber Learning Studios (ToC)

Another brief section of this work – part of Chapter XIV–Chambers – has been excerpted as “Mr. Testator’s Visitation.”

At the following site, use your browser’s “find” function to locate “Chapter XV” or “Nurse’s Stories” for the first work mentioned above, or “Chapter XIV” or, better, “Testator” to locate the second work mentioned above. “Mr. Testator’s Visitation” begins with the second instance of “Testator” and ends with the phrase “grim Lyons Inn.”

– at Project Gutenberg (831K)

About the Author: Maryann DiEdwardo is a humanitarian; themes found in Maryann’s writing techniques directly echo those found in works of Dickens.

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