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Dickens’s Consumptive Urbanity: Consumption (Tuberculosis) through the Prism of Victorian Sensibility

Hristo Boev

Abstract: This article examines the correlation between consumption and tuberculosis in Dickens’s city, tracing the evolution of its representations in his novels. It compares these representations to the coverage of the disease in Victorian newspapers against criticism on tuberculosis and literature. In so doing, the article establishes Dickens as a writer divided by his scientific approach as a city life chronicler and his Victorian imagination. Since consumption and consumerism as a phenomenon appeared in the mid-19th century, the text also aims to determine the dimensions of the interaction between consuming the city and being consumed by it and how this is related to tuberculosis. The researched material includes early to mid-Dickens’s works since tubercular presence is the strongest felt and the most significant there; thus, consumption (tuberculosis) in Dickens can be considered the Janus face of early consumerism, resulting from insufficient consumption of food and proper care.
Keywords: evolution / tuberculosis / Victorian / representations / consumerism / consumption / tubercular presence / establishes Dickens / material includes

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