Establishes the importance of the popular radical figure of the pantomime clown in the work of Charles Dickens
This book reappraises Dickens's Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi and his imaginative engagement with its principal protagonist. Arguing that the Memoirs should be read as integral to Dickens's wider creative project on the theatricality of everyday existence, Jonathan Buckmaster analyses how Grimaldi's clown stepped into many of Dickens's novels.
Dickens's Clowns presents new readings of Dickens's treatment of topics such as identity, the grotesque and violence within the context of the tropes of the Regency pantomime. This is the first study to identify the Dickensian clown as a unifying force for several Dickensian themes, overturning traditional views of Dickens's clowns as peripheral figures.
- Provides a new reading of one of Dickens's most neglected texts, and firmly re-establishes it within the Dickens canon as both part of a wider project alongside his other major works of the period and an important influence on later work
- Identifies the pantomime routines of the Regency clown as a key cultural influence on Dickens's work, tracing significant new sources for his comical treatment of violence and his comedy more generally
- Offers important new perspectives on two other key themes in Dickens's work - the use of food and drink within Dickens's articulation of the bodily grotesque and Dickens's use of clothing as a radical signifier of individual liberty