Drawing on fresh source material, Fred Kaplan considers the importance From Dickens and Mesmerism of Dickens' involvement with mesmerism for his work and his personality. In so doing he describes a significant intellectual and spiritual movement and provides new and controversial insights into Dickens' fiction.
The mesmeric movement in England, particularly its controversial activities during the late 1830s and the 1840s, intensified Dickens' concern with the ways in which people discover and exert their energies and will to control each other. Dickens' own activities as a mesmerist provide the biographical touchstone for his image of himself as a doctor of the mind. Fred Kaplan examines the author's entire oeuvre in a synoptic, thematic fashion, exploring the attitudes shaped by the mesmerists that are reflected in the novels' psychological tensions. The final chapter provides an overview of the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern currents that may be found in Dickens' fascination with mesmeric power.
Originally published in 1975.
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