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Dickens on the Move

Travels and Transformations

Stefan Welz and Elmar Schenkel

From today’s perspective, Charles Dickens seems to continue a British tradition in which dynamism and movement are central. This serves as a starting point for a bicentenary conference held by the English Department of Leipzig University in October 2012. The contributions united in this volume cover the three categories of geography, adaptation and reception of Dickens’ works. Whether in a physical, imaginary or virtual sense, notions of space, time and change are fundamental to all of these fields. They inform both Dickens’ narrative and his biography, in which acts of movement, exchange and transformation are perpetually performed. Articles discuss Dickens’ travels in London and abroad, but also Chesterton’s Dickens or his reception in Australia and New Zealand.
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“Please, sir, I want some more”: Representations of Poverty on the Move



Oliver Twist’s request “Please, sir, I want some more” (Dickens 2008, 12) has come to stand for Dickens’s special gift to capture the experience of poverty and starvation. Addressed to the master of the workhouse who metes out the thrice-daily allowance of thin gruel to the orphan boys under his supervision, that request, voiced by a nine-year-old boy, is taken as an act of insurrection. The scene captures the rationale of the repressive workhouse system, which, far from being a place of charity, was virtually a punitive institution meant to deter the indigent from claiming poor relief.

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