Dickens scholar Jerome Meckier's acclaimedHidden Rivalries in Victorian Fictionexamined fierce literary competition between leading novelists who tried to establish their credentials as realists by rewriting Dickens's novels. Here, Meckier argues that inGreat Expectations, Dickens not only updatedDavid Copperfieldbut 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 fromThe 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.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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