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Wealthy shipping merchant Paul Dombey runs his family like he runs his business, with coldness and calculation. When his wife dies giving birth to their second child and long hoped-for heir, Dombey remains preoccupied only with the importance of passing the firm along to his son. Lost in this narrow, obsessive view is Dombey's older child, Florence, who yearns for his attention but receives only an indifference that eventually curdles into outright hatred. Published midway through the author's career, this 1848 novel marked a new maturity in Charles Dickens' writing. Less an examination of socioeconomic conditions and more of an exploration of emotional deprivation and fulfillment, it offers the satirical indignation of the storyteller's early fiction with an added darkness and narrative complexity. An absorbing plot and memorable characters combine to form a compelling tale of greed, poor judgment, and the redemptive power of love.
Why, he asks, does it seem easier for humanity to imagine a future shaped by ever-deadlier accidents than a decent future? Danger and Vulnerability in Nineteenth Century American Literature; or, Crash and Burn American invites readers to examine the “threat horizon” through its nascent expression in literary and cultural history. Against the emerging rhetoric of danger in the long nineteenth century, this book examines how a vocabulary of vulnerability in the American imaginary promoted the causes of the structurally disempowered in new and surprising ways, often seizing vulnerability as the grounds for progressive insight. The texts at the heart of this study, from nineteenth-century sensation novels to early twentieth-century journalistic fiction, imagine spectacular collisions, terrifying conflagrations, and all manner of catastrophe, social, political, and environmental. Together they write against illusions of inviolability in a growing technological and managerial culture, and they imagine how the recognition of universal vulnerability may challenge normative representations of social, political, and economic marginality.
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