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Our Mutual Friend (1864-5), Dickens's last completed novel, has been critically praised as a profound and troubled masterpiece, and yet it has received far less scholarly attention than his other major works. This book is the first book-length study of the novel. It explores ever aspect of Dickens's sustained imaginative involvement with his age. In particular its original research into hitherto neglected sources reveals not only Dickens's reactions to the important developments during the 1860's in education, finance and the administration of poverty, but also his interest in phenomena as diverse as waste collection and the Shakespeare Tercentenary. The vast range of literary allusions is identified, as the major influences of other writers, among them the dramatists James Sheridan Knowles, Shakespeare, Carlyle, Thomas Hood and Henry Mayhew. This book conclusively demonstrates the varied resources of artistry that invigorate the novel, and it provides for the modern scholar, the student and the general reader a fundamental source of information about one of Dickens's most complex works.
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