Dickens's Secular Gospel
Work, Gender, and Personality
Routledge – 2009 – 168 pages
The first full-length study on the subject of Dickens and work, this book reshapes our understanding of Dickens by challenging a critical oversimplification: that Dickens's attitude towards work reflects conventional expressions of Victorian earnestness of the sort attributed also to Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, and even more simplistically, Samuel Smiles. Instead, by analyzing a wide range of Dickens’s fiction and journalism in the light of new biographical and historical research, Louttit shows that Dickens is not interested in work as an abstract, positive value, or even in cataloguing it in concrete detail. What he explores instead is the human dimension of work: how, in other words, work affects the lives of those engaged in it. His writing about work is, as a result, best viewed not merely as a quasi-religious Gospel of Work, nor as an objective sociological report, but rather as what Louttit terms a "secular gospel."
"Carefully researched, well written and free of jargon, Dicken's Secular Gospel presents us with convincing readings of Dickens's exploration of 'the human dimensions of work.'"
--Dickens Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4, December 2010
Introduction: Dickens, Work and the Victorians 1 'In the very grain of man'? Work and the Shaping of Personality 2 Gendering the Labouring Body 3 'A Theatre of Healing or Cruelty'? Dickens and Professionalism 4 Women's Work? Dickens and the Management of the Home 5 Bad and Idle Dogs? Reclaiming Dickens's Idle Men Epilogue: Occupation Disguise in Our Mutual Friend and The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Chris Louttit is an Assistant Professor of British Literature at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.