Saturday, April 29, 2023

“Unacceptabobble” “prodigygality”: Joycean words in Charles Dickens’s “Great Expectations” (1861)

Near the end of Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations" (1861), two characters use words that could have come straight out of James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" (1939). First, Joe Gargery says that when he heard Pip was ill, he thought that "a wisit at such a moment might not prove unacceptabobble." Later, while bothering Pip when he is eating breakfast, Mr. Pumblechook describes his "frame" as "exhausted by the debilitating effects of prodigygality." For Dickens, such stumbles in the pronunciation of words appear in dialogue to serve characterization: Joe the simple blacksmith; Pumblechook the pretentious self-proclaimed benefactor. In "Finnegans Wake", of course, such mixings of words permeate practically every moment of the narration. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 29 April 2023)

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