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Inscribing friendship: John Forster’s Life of Dickens and the writing of male intimacy in the Victorian period

Furneaux, Holly ORCID: 2011. Inscribing friendship: John Forster’s Life of Dickens and the writing of male intimacy in the Victorian period. Life Writing 8 (3) , pp. 243-256. 10.1080/14484528.2011.578337

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Forster's Life of Charles Dickens (1872–4) was described in contemporary reviews as ‘The Autobiography of John Forster with Recollections of Charles Dickens’, and continues to be charged with making Forster a disproportionately large character in Dickens's life story. This article takes a different approach to The Life, viewing Forster's biography of his friend and literary advisee as a significant document for the exploration of personal and professional intimacy between men in the period; a document that reveals a plenitude of available languages for the expression of a rich emotional experience of male friendship, encompassing amity, tenderness, loss and mourning. In exploring the Life of Dickens as a narrative of the life in relation, this article endeavours to expand upon often rather fleeting critical references to the significance of a personal relationship between biographer and subject. I close-read Forster's biography alongside Dickens's own discussions of male friendship in his fiction, journalism and letters, using approaches from queer theory and a historical approach to friendship between men to offer a new framework for understanding the narrative and emotional effects of biographical intimacy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Additional Information: Special Issue: Lives in Relation
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1448-4528
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2022 09:09

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