19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 10 (2010)

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Pickwick’s Interpolated Tales and the Examination of Suicide: The Science of an Ending

Andrew Scott Mangham


The death of the illustrator Robert Seymour, combined with other well-publicized cases of self destruction, had a defining impact on Dickens’s most formative work. In addition to the various moments of ‘accident and design’ that determined the pace and structure of The Pickwick Papers, the complex, philosophical questions that arose from the spectacle of suicide inspired the young Dickens to invent the style that came to define him. This essay examines Dickens's engagements with science, medicine, and the logic of discovery through the intersections between Pickwick's interpolated tales and cases of alleged suicide.

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