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Title: 'Clowns that beat Grimaldi all to nothing turn up every day!' : the Grimaldian clown in the work of Charles Dickens
Author: Buckmaster, Jonathan James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 0507
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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My thesis focuses on the figure of the pantomime clown in the work of Charles Dickens. While a number of scholars have described Dickens's professional and imaginative relationship to the theatre and popular entertainment, few of these studies have attended to Dickens's ideas on pantomime'. Moreover, the importance of the pantomime clown to the formation of Dickens's comic characters is also an under-studied field. The first half of my thesis focuses on two early works that determined Dickens's attitude to the form and ideas of pantomime. The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi (1838), the biography of a Regency actor who popularised the role of the pantomime clown, is a largely forgotten text, creatively inferior to much of Dickens's work, but I shall argue that it can be read as a working through of the ideas he had raised in his earlier essay 'The Pantomime of Life' (published in March 1837) around the theme of life as a theatrical performance. Moreover, through a close comparison of the Memoirs with the two novels of the same period, The Pick wick Papers and Oliver Twist, it is possible to identify a clear line of thematic and stylistic continuity. In the second half of my thesis I demonstrate how these ideas persist and develop in Dickens's subsequent fiction. I examine a number of Dickens's comic figures in relation to three tropes from Grimaldi's repertoire - excessive consumption of food and drink, transformative clothing and slapstick violence. These tropes are part of Deborah Vlock's 'imaginary text' of Victorian readers and theatre-goers, which carries its meaning beyond the playhouse to the novel.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available