Dickens and the Dream of Cinema

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Manchester University Press, Nov 8, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 206 pages
Dickens and the dream of cinema seeks to dissolve the barriers between literary and film studies. Grahame Smith, a major Dickens scholar who has also taught, researched and published in the field of film, suggests that Dickens's work plays a seminal role in the emergence of cinema. Taking his cue from Walter Benjamin's concept of each epoch dreaming the epoch that is to follow, Smith argues that Dickens's novels can be regarded as proto-filmic in the detail of their language as well as their larger formal structures. This possibility arises from Dickens's creative engagement with the city as metropolis, as it emerges in the London of the 1830s. Dickens's immersion in the visual entertainments of his own day, such as the panorama, and his interest in railway travel are also important ingredients in this anticipation of film. The book suggests a new way of reading Dickens by way of a form which only came into existence after his death, while simultaneously offering an account of his part in the manifold forces that led to the appearance of film towards the end of the nineteenth century. This original and groundbreaking study will appeal both to the many readers of Dickens and to students of early and silent cinema.

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About the author (2003)

Grahame Smith is Professor Emeritus of English Studies at the University of Stirling.

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