Saturday, January 30, 2021

"Some frowned, some smiled": Nell Trent observes the world in Dickens's "The Old Curiosity Shop"

During their wanderings in Charles Dickens's "The Old Curiosity Shop" (1841), Nell Trent and her grandfather take shelter in a low archway and observe passers-by in an all-encompassing sentence anticipating the opening of "A Tale of Two Cities" (1859): "Some frowned, some smiled, some muttered to themselves, some made slight gestures, as if anticipating the conversation in which they would shortly be engaged, some wore the cunning look of bargaining and plotting, some were anxious and eager, some slow and dull; in some countenances, were written gain; in others, loss." The hidden observers figure how the novelist interprets the world to write tales of "bargaining and plotting", of "gain" and "loss". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 30 January 2021)

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