Sunday, August 21, 2022

Football as figure and sport in Charles Dickens's "Dombey and Son" and "Bleak House"

In Charles Dickens's "Dombey and Son" (1848), Mr. Morfin, the assistant manager of the titular business, tells John and Harriet Carker that their brother James Carker kept "extending his influence, until the business and its owner were his football." This figurative sense of "football" as "a person who or thing which is treated carelessly or capriciously", which dates back to at least 1532 (OED), also appears in "Bleak House" (1853) when the soldier Mr. George says that the world uses him "like a football." But the game itself is mentioned in "Bleak House", too, when Mr. Skimpole tells Richard Carstone "how fond he used to be, in his school-time, of football." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 August 2022)

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