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Dickens scholar Jerome Meckier’s acclaimed Hidden Rivalries in Victorian Fiction examined fierce literary competition between leading novelists who tried to establish their credentials as realists by rewriting Dickens's novels. Here, Meckier argues that in Great Expectations, Dickens not only updated David Copperfield but also rewrote novels by Lever, Thackeray, Collins, Shelley, and Charlotte and Emily Brontë. He periodically revised his competitors’ themes, characters, and incidents to discredit their novels as unrealistic fairy tales imbued with Cinderella motifs. Dickens darkened his fairy tale perspective by replacing Cinderella with the story of Misnar’s collapsible pavilion from The Tales of the Genii (a popular, pseudo-oriental collection). The Misnar analogue supplied a corrective for the era’s Cinderella complex, a warning to both Haves and Have-nots, and a basis for Dickens’s tragicomic view of the world.
Jerome Meckier, professor of English at the University of Kentucky and past president of The Dickens Society, is the author of several books, including Hidden Rivalries in Victorian Fiction and Innocent Abroad. Dickens's Great Expectations completes an informal trilogy.
"Destined to become one of the most important analyses of Great Expectations, this carefully researched book is recommended."—Choice
"Meckier insightfully argues that, in Great Expectations, Dickens was consciously rewriting novels by Lever, Thackeray, Collins, Shelley, and Charlotte and Emily Bronte, as well as Dickens’s own David Copperfield. . . . Contains an impressive amount of excellent material."—Deborah Thomas
"Establishes Dickens as a profound social thinker in Great Expectations, one whose thought is never abstract but mediated through language, character, and narrative, through aesthetic demands of form in the widest sense."—Dickens Quarterly
"Incisive, intelligent, spirited, and cogently argued. . . . A wholly valid close reading of Dickens’s great novel."—Elliot Engel
"Meckier compiles compelling evidence to support his categorization of Great Expectations as a parody of and response to what he deemed unrealistic portrayals of Victorian culture using, or misusing, the trope of Cinderella."—English Literature in Transition
"Focuses on what is arguably Dickens’s finest novel."—Victorian Newsletter
"Meckier’s astonishing finesse as a close reader is happily instructive."—Victorian Studies
"A thorough reevaluation of the ways in which Charles Dickens employed fairy tale plots late in his career."—Virginia Quarterly Review
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Literature in English, British Isles
Meckier, Jerome, "Dickens's Great Expectations: Misnar's Pavilion versus Cinderella" (2002). Literature in English, British Isles. 83.