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Sketches by Boz
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Sketches by Boz > Scenes, 05: Seven Dials

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Tristram Shandy Dear Pickwickians,

this is the place to post your comments on "Seven Dials".

message 2: by Kate (new)

Kate OK, when I think of Victorian London, that's what I'm talking about. Thanks Dickens for confirming my suspicions.

Why? I think it's because it's reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper era - it just seems so grimy and depressing. I've been intrigued by these cases, for as long as I can remember, and have done the Jack the Ripper tour. The descriptions remind me of Whitechapel, particularly Mitre Square, for some reason, which is where one of the murders occurred.

Hmmm... I wonder Dickens would have made of the Jack the Ripper cases?

And before I forget, my favourite quote of the sketch is "The idea of a man dressing himself in his best clothes, to lean against a post all day!" Again, I had a flashback, but this time to the Artful Dodger.

message 3: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) This I found amusing: - 'a Frenchman in Seven Dials! Pooh! He was an Irishman. Tom King's education had been neglected in his infancy, and as he couldn't understand half the man said, he took it for granted that he was talking French.'

And again: 'the carpet-beater extends his professional pursuits to his wife;'

Tristram Shandy I was actually wondering how Dickens could have got his insight into the internal matters in Seven Dials as it must have been somewhat dangerous to be moving around a London slum area for somebody who obviously did not live there.

However, when Dickens describes the tenants and their everyday life I was reminded of Nicholas Nickleby and the Kenwigs family plus their neighbours.

There is another interesting detail:

"The shabby-genteel man is an object of some mystery, but as he leads a life of seclusion, and never was known to buy any thing beyond an occasional pen, except half-pints of coffee, penny loaves, and ha'porths of ink, his fellow-lodgers very naturally suppose him to be an author; and rumours are current in the Dials, that he writes poems for Mr. Warren."

The months Dickens spent as a child labourer in Mr. Warren's blacking factory also have left their traces in his writings - among others in Pickwick Papers and David Copperfield, but also here where Dickens portrays the grim living conditions of a hack who has to write advertisements.

Tristram Shandy Hilary wrote: "This I found amusing: - 'a Frenchman in Seven Dials! Pooh! He was an Irishman. Tom King's education had been neglected in his infancy, and as he couldn't understand half the man said, he took it..."

I liked the one about the carpet-beater, too, because I'm a friend of understatement. I did not know that it was actually a job because I thought that beating your carpets came within the range of the domestic duties of the Victorian housewife or maid-servant, and so I wonder if you could really make a living offering your services as a professional carpet-beater.

My grandmother still used to have a carpet-beater but she did not apply it very often to her carpets any more. Instead she used it, sparingly and therefore probably wisely, as a pedagogical tool on my backside when my childish ways met with her displeasure.

message 6: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) Haha Tristram; at least you gave the carpet beater reason for its existence. I remember, as a small child, carpets being beaten in the back yard. I wouldn't at all be surprised if the carpet beater would give the new-dangled vacuum a run for its money!

Interesting about the reference to Mr Warren. I had not remembered that that was the name of Dickens's' 'employer' as a boy. I'm sure that he could have offered some choice verses for the 'author'!

message 7: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) @new-fangled (autocorrect )

Tristram Shandy Hilary,

in a way, Dickens immortalized Mr. Warren by referring to him at least twice (here and in PP; in DC the child labouring experience is used without the author mentioning the name of Warren). Quite ironic because doing him a service of that extent would hardly have been what Dickens wanted.

message 9: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) That's a very interesting point, Tristram.

Tristram Shandy Thanks!

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