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By W. Jacobson

Dickens and the youngsters of Empire examines the subjects of formative years and empire all through Dickens' ouevre. the celebrated crew of participants begin and expand debates at the matters of post-colonialism, literature of the kid, and current adolescence as an apt metaphor for the colonized topic in Dickens' paintings.

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43). This compassion does not keep Pip from entertaining the sense that it is all somebody else’s fault, that we have done nothing to deserve all this, and that we are living inside an orderly plot where justice rules. 114). It is as if the sense he has of being victimized is loose somewhere, flying around in the room, refusing to alight. Pip is tempted by David’s plot of self-justification, but he can manage no more than a weak parody of it. He can find nobody better to blame than Biddy and finally abandons the victim plot altogether.

Innocence makes you vulnerable, badly in need of protection, which is one reason adults like it to be in others. Originally, for the Romantics, innocence was connected not only to God but to active sympathies and primal love; but over the century it gravitated more and more toward a passive nullity, a pure point strangely connected to its opposite, depravity. Innocence was such a pure conception in the nineteenth century that we may be struck with the difference between the adored literary child – little Alice or Oliver Twist or Ragged Dick – and the chimney sweeps dying of cancer of the scrotum, the factory children being mutilated, the cast-offs being left to wander the streets and peddle their bodies.

The Preface to the novel is a kind of mourning for a lost book, ‘more precious [like a lost child] than any that can be read for love or money’ (p. xli), a mourning for something that is and is not dead, which Dickens must let go and cannot let go, which will live for ever because it is by Dickens and contains two of his immortal characters (Mr Pickwick and Sam Weller, brought back to life), and which is thoroughly dead because it is writing which is always dead and because nobody much liked the idea of a miscellany, and yet it is alive because it gave birth to the immortal Nell and yet it is dead because Nell and The Old Curiosity Shop are detached from it.

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