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Romances of Free TradeBritish Literature, Laissez-Faire, and the Global Nineteenth Century$
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Ayşe Çelikkol

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199769001

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199769001.001.0001

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The Compression of Space in Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit

The Compression of Space in Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit

(p.123) 7.The Compression of Space in Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit
Romances of Free Trade

Ayşe Çelikkol

Oxford University Press

Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit (1855–1857) employs the vocabulary of debates on Sino-British commerce and especially the opium trade, topics that Dickens also addressed in his journalism. Through the tropes of isolation and permeation, Dickens draws attention to accelerated circulation across national borders. The novel’s business tycoon and its international blackmailer both appear to enjoy uncanny ubiquity, as if they were not bound by space or time. The realist conventions of Little Dorrit are suspended by the narration of merchants’ radical mobility, with alternative techniques inherited from romances taking over. In the Gothic blackmail subplot, disorienting spaces that are characteristic of the romance mode offer a remarkably early imagination of what globalization scholars today call time-space compression, the confusing experience of space in capitalism.

Keywords:   space in literature, cosmopolitanism, Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, opium trade in literature, the Gothic

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