AS IS WELL KNOWN, when he was 11 years old Charles Dickens was sent out to work at Warren's blacking warehouse due to financial difficulties in the family.1 Soon afterwards his father was arrested for debt and the family moved into the Marshalsea prison, but young Charles had to live by himself. ‘It is wonderful to me how I could have been so easily cast away’, he confesses.2 He felt ‘utterly neglected and hopeless’ (AF, p. 26). Edmund Wilson famously argued that this experience produced in Dickens ‘a trauma from which he suffered all his life’. This psychological wound, in Wilson's view, holds the key to the novelist's creative activities: ‘For the man of spirit whose childhood has been crushed by the cruelty of organized society, one of two attitudes is natural: that of the criminal...

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