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Dickens and the Stenographic Mind$
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Hugo Bowles

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829072

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829072.001.0001

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Plays of the pen

Plays of the pen

(p.125) 7 Plays of the pen
Dickens and the Stenographic Mind

Hugo Bowles

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores representations of shorthand in Dickens’s life and work, providing examples of stylistic areas that were influenced by his shorthand learning. These include his use of consonant clusters to obtain phonaesthetic effects in character names (section 7.1), reported speech in Doctors Commons (section 7.2), stenographic direct speech in Bleak House and Little Dorrit (section 7.3), the construction of verbal puzzles in Pickwick, Great Expectations, All the Year Round, and the Uncommercial Traveller (section 7.4), and stenographic episodes of reading and writing in Great Expectations, Dombey and Son, The Haunted Man, and Bleak House (section 7.5). The last two sections hypothesize that Dickens may even have adopted a stenographic perspective in the construction of plot (section 7.6) and of his own identity as an author (section 7.7). The chapter argues that the stenographic representations pervading Dickens’s work directly reflect his experience of learning and using shorthand.

Keywords:   style, character names, consonant clusters, phonaesthesia, puzzle, plot, narrative, identity

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