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From Dog Alterity to Canine Sublime: A Cross-Century Reading of Victorian Fiction

Entre altérité et sublime : le chien dans quelques romans victoriens
Georges Letissier


From Charles Dickens to Joseph Conrad dogs are omnipresent in Victorian novels. Many recent critical works have investigated the part they play, either within the confines of specific novels or against the enlarged context of Victorian culture. Reversing Monica Flegel’s stance in Pets and Domesticity in Victorian Literature and Culture. Animality, Queer Relations and the Victorian Family, in which pet animals are studied through their relationship with the family institution, this paper considers dogs through their radical otherness. It starts from the assumption that literature is where humans can encounter and confront the alterity of animal kind in ways that attempt to move beyond anthropomorphism/centrism. This reversal of perspective, whereby the animal is no longer seen as man’s adjunct, is all the more perplexing in the case of dogs, generally described through the tight bond they hold with their masters. This ethological enigmaticity, which baffles the limits of ontology, may be analysed through the notion of the sublime, i.e. as a random thing of spirit, or whatever is not amenable to reason and entails a sense of awe.

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1Dogs often appear as pets and companion animals in Victorian culture. To quote Ivan Kreilkamp: ‘If England became known as a nation of shop-keepers, it was also preeminently associated with long novels and beloved pet animals, two cultural forms which . . .  developed not just in parallel but in tandem’ (Kreilkamp 87). Monica Flegel for her part argues that pets, principally dogs, upset the various constructions of the family in the period, with its emphasis on marriage, family, child-rearing and all their attendant rituals (Flegel 8). This paper purports to adopt what is perhaps a more traditional perspective by showing dogs as undomesticated creatures, exposed to wilderness and untamed nature. If, according to Colleen Glenny Boggs, literature affords ‘a vicarious experience whereby humans can encounter and confront the otherness of animal kind in ways that attempt to move beyond anthropomorphism’ (Glenny Boggs 5), a cross-century reading of Victorian fiction will illustrate different facets of this otherness where the canine species is concerned.

2It will be shown that the confrontation with dog alterity entails questions on the ontological foundations of the human in a context of epistemological upheavals. To prevent any undue assimilation of the dog with human kind, to go beyond the stereotype of the canine companion as the mirror image of its master or mistress, animality will be considered as an experience of alterity. Firstly, for the obvious reason that Darwinism contributed to displacing the boundary line between the human and the non-human and, secondly, because striving to reach out towards the animal condition, the dog one, in the present case, implies relinquishing the primacy of the human subject as the central focus of consciousness and imagining the possibility that a ‘beyond’, from which a renewed perspective on what has so far been taken for granted, can be envisioned. This is why Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari drew a correspondence between becoming animal and the writer’s work. The novelists who are studied in this essay are indeed all concerned with the anomalous, with the phenomenon of bordering, and coming to terms with the proto-human, which is the advent of the primal inhuman within the human. Doggishness, doggedness and caninity, instead of affording a reassuring experience comforting human identity, will be construed as heterogeneous and defamiliarising. By empowering this animal lumpenproletariat, the Victorian novel already granted them the opportunity to ‘bite back’ and destabilize traditional hierarchies between species and sub-species.

3In a first part, dogs will be shown as troubling Victorian decorum and confusing identity perception; in a second one the focus will be laid on dogs in anomic surroundings and the Victorian seamy side; and a last section will be dedicated to dog’s agency in a godless world, by pointing up the parodic reversal of the signifier ‘dog’, giving ‘god’, in a distorted mirror game of collapsing values.

The Dog in the Victorian Manger: Fiddling with the Rules from Within

4Dog is a hyperonym, whose semantic content covers a whole range of lexical items from lapdogs, curs, mongrels, to say nothing of species: springers, skye-terriers, bull-terriers, retrievers and so forth. The genera subdivided into species overlap with social classifications. In Wuthering Heights the socially integrated Linton children are described as pampered lapdogs whilst the children of the storm, Catherine and Heathcliff, are seen as young, free puppies. Dog’s taxonomy thus serves to discriminate between social conformity/conformism and lack thereof, between those who abide by the norms and those who live beyond the pale. The latter are considered in turn as riddling and threatening. Dogs therefore contribute to calling up radical otherness. In The Mill on the Floss the prim and prissy, albeit endearing, Lucy Deane is a coquette from a more refined class than the Tullivers. She is aptly offered ‘a little black spaniel—a rare bit o’breed’ (Eliot 390). This rare, pampered minion is obtained thanks to Bob Jakin, a destitute boy, who makes a living by peddling goods and cheating in the process. Through Bob and his mongrel Mumps an alternative vision of society is propounded. To the thoroughbred Minny, whom Lucy rapidly takes a fancy to, Bob prefers a dog that might be categorized as riffraff. The brindled mongrel ‘advances its superior claim to intelligence as against its lack of ornamental charm’ (Corbett 126). Its cleverness transpires through its complicity with its master who tends to cheat his clientele under the necessity of making ends meet: ‘But I’m so used to talking to Mumps, an’ he doesn’t mind a bit o’cheating, when it’s them skintflint women, as haggle an’haggle, an’ ’ud like to get their flannel for nothing’ (Eliot 285). Mumps and Bob make up a pair of marginal characters, forced to live off their wits on the fringe of society. Their pragmatic approach constitutes an alternative counterculture at odds with liberal, laissez-faire economics. So when Bob offers a mongrel puppy to Maggie Tulliver, a girl whom the narrator endearingly describes as a ‘small mistake of nature’ (Eliot 13), he praises the values of intercrossing over interbreeding. It is the racialist ideology of Anglo-Saxondom, the belief in the superiority of the white race in the colonial adventure which is targeted: ‘there’s a pup—if you didn’t mind about it not bein’ thoroughbred: its mother acts in the Punch show’ (Eliot 283). As Corbett perceptively argues, it is the very alterity inherent in Englishness that is evoked through this puppy:

As against the pride of parentage and commitment to bloodline that privileges the pure over the mixed, Bob vindicates the cross and casts it as the implicit norm for ordinary human breeding as well. As a heterogeneous thing Eliot’s contemporaries were increasingly coming to understand as a figure for the English themselves—a people of hybrid stock, mixed in blood and character—a mongrel is an eminently useful creature whose very ‘vigour and fertility’ ensures its ability not just to survive but also to propagate its mixed lines. (Corbett 127)

5George Eliot not only showed that dogs were part of courtship rituals but that any failure to comply with the expected conduct in such situations led to social ostracism. In Pets and Domesticity Flegel demonstrates how Dorothea Brooke’s aversion to lapdogs seriously compromises her chances of ever getting married. Her rejection of the gift of a tiny Maltese puppy by her suitor James Chettam raises suspicions as to her qualification for matrimony (Flegel 27‒29). A rather similar situation occurs in The Mill on the Floss. Here again it is a dog that acts as catalyst for the unsuitability of a union at a time when marriage was the cornerstone of the established order. Tom Tulliver’s present of a little black spaniel to Lucy Deane is, to all intents and purposes, the expression of a muted passion. Only Maggie, who is too close to her brother to own up to the fact, denies the obvious: ‘The present of the dog meant nothing more than cousinship and gratitude’ (Eliot 391). The ensuing dramatic irony stems from the fact that the dog so happily welcomed subsequently acts as an animated prop in the courtship ritual between Stephen Guest—Tom’s rival—and Lucy. The darling pet overreacts when Stephen plays the piano and sings with Lucy and the narrator comes up with a mock heroic performance of canine ethology to render this sulky mood: ‘Minny’s mistress was charmed; but Minny, who had just intrenched himself, trembling, in his basket as soon as the music began, found this thunder so little to his taste that he leaped out and scampered under the remotest chiffonière, as the most eligible place in which a small dog could await the crack of doom’ (Eliot 368). The impassioned relationship between the mistress and her dog comes as a counterpoint to the wooing scenes. Later, the caresses lavished on the dog by the girl’s suitor express a physical proximity that social decorum would forbid between two adults of the opposite sex. All these metonymic displacements complicate the more straightforward ritual of the impassive toy puppet as a token of affection from the gentleman to his spouse-to-be. Through the dog, animated by feelings of his own and crystallizing a rivalry between two suitors, Eliot adumbrates the possibility of a love triangle with an animal, claiming its own share of love and affection. The little petitioner is no longer merely an arbiter of passion and the well-set ritual of courtship skews the initial stage of marriage and heteronormativity.

Dogs in Anomic Surroundings: the Victorian Seamy Side

6Undomesticated dogs feature prominently in two novels picturing marginal communities, one is rural Wuthering Heights and the other urban, Oliver Twist. In each case, dogs help polarize the dichotomy between insiders and outsiders. On arriving at Wuthering Heights Lockwood is warned in no uncertain terms by the owner of the place that he had better leave the dog alone and, immediately after, both master and dog growl in unison. Then, on entering the penetralium, which marks the first step of the newcomer’s initiation into the arcane mystery of the eponymous dwelling, Lockwood’s attention is struck by a surly bitch pointer surrounded by squealing puppies (Brontë 5). Instead of endearing him and inviting caresses, the canine mother threatens to bite the visitor’s leg and it soon dawns upon him that other dogs, as yet unnoticed, are haunting every recess of the rustic room. So the dogs occupy a liminal space at the entrance to a Gothic locale, heralding the untamed forces that are soon to assail Lockwood. Symbolically, they fulfil the same function as the grotesque carving lavished over the house front, notably a wilderness of griffins. Their Cerberus-like presence signals the boundary line between society and an exclusive preserve aside of it. Similarly, in Oliver Twist, Bull’s-Eye marks off a territory on which it might be risky to trespass. The white shaggy dog lies close by William Sikes, the ruffian, whose headquarters are to be found in the obscure parlour of a low public house in the filthiest part of little Saffron-Hill. Even if it is claimed by the narrator that ‘no experienced agent of police would have hesitated an instant to recognize [the man] as William Sikes’ (Dickens 116), it is not clear whether the aforementioned policeman would have dared to venture into such a lair in the first place. The underworld of criminals, which Sikes belongs to, forms a homosocial circle in which manly violence rules all interactions. And Bull’s-Eye’s animosity, as with the dogs in Wuthering Heights, seems directed against mankind in general: ‘the dog . . .  by a certain licking of his lips seemed to be meditating an attack upon the legs of the first gentleman or lady he might encounter in the street when he went out’ (Dickens 100). Bull’s-Eye, who has won his credentials for being ‘the downiest of the lot’ (Dickens 148), by which must be understood the most heinous and despicable member of Fagin’s gang, acts as a catalyst for the eruptive violence which obtains in this den of criminality.

7In both Wuthering Heights and Oliver Twist the relation to dogs underscores the failure to comply with elementary principles of civility, let alone social decorum. Surrender to drives and basic instincts constitutes a chaotic, anomic alternative to the constraining and supposedly morally uplifting codes of the Victorian ethos. Bull’s-Eye is a dog abused and corrupted by his master and he is caught up in a machination of violence operating blindly. Inured to the worst, through repeated injuries perpetrated against him by Sikes, the dog returns assault for assault. The scene in which Bull’s-Eye threatened by Sikes, holding a poker in one hand and a claspknife in the other, savagely retaliates by biting at the metal stick ‘like a wild beast’ (Dickens 117) may be read as murderous fantasy. It is not devoid of comedic aspects though and there is an element of farce in the performance, especially when Fagin interrupts the callous game by butting in unexpectedly: ‘What the devil do you come in between me and my dog for? said Sikes with a fierce gesture’ (Dickens 117). Any suggestion of a Punch and Judy show is nevertheless precluded retrospectively when it transpires that the scene might be construed as a rehearsal for Nancy’s murder, with the dog as a stand-in for the helpless woman. Interestingly, uncivilised behaviour comes from the civilised quarters too in Wuthering Heights. This is hardly surprising as it has been reported that Emily Brontë, for all her education as a parson’s daughter, once beat up her mastiff Keeper that had dirtied a counterpane with its paws, punching it in the face, not once, but so often that it was left half blind and stupefied. Georges Bataille in Literature and Evil argues that Brontë is a child revolted against the world of good, against the world of adults and that through her indomitable revolt she is dedicated to the party of evil (Bataille 19). Dogs in her only novel are indeed either the victims or the agents of acts of sheer cruelty and both sadism and masochism are equally shared between the human and animal species, as was very well shown in Andrea Arnold’s recent film adaptation. The delicate Isabella Linton as the new Mrs Heathcliff is at one point confronted to the sight of her springer Fanny ‘suspended to a handkerchief, and nearly at its last gap’ (Brontë 129). Furthermore, as she finally flees from the Heights, Isabella knocks over Hareton hanging a litter of puppies from a chair back in the doorway (Brontë 183). Such images of ruthless cruelty blur any neat demarcation line between the civilised and the uncivilised especially when the two pampered lapdogs, i.e. Isabella and Edgar, are seen by Catherine and Heathcliff pulling their pet apart and inflicting pain on it as a result of their silly scuffle (Brontë 48).

8In both Oliver Twist and Wuthering Heights there is, in the last resort, a supernatural dimension attached to the treatment of worldly violence. After the murder of Nancy, Sikes is obsessed by the image of the pair of eyes that is to stay in his mind after taking a last glimpse of the girl’s corpse. He is also perturbed by the dog leaving bloody traces all over the room with his paws. Besides, the dog keeps stalking Sikes and haunting him during his flight, as if Bull’s-Eye were a constant reminder of the heinous deed the ruffian is striving to escape from. This doppelgänger, or maybe doggelgänger, seems almost privy to his master’s destiny, having anticipated the villain’s return to London, by being there first, as if awaiting the fated—ie. fatum already written—turn of events. In this sense, Bull’s-Eye would afford a rare example of hauntology, or perhaps ‘houndology’:

He [Sikes] went on doggedly; but as he left the town behind him . . .  he felt a dread and awe creeping upon him which shook him to the core.  . . . He could trace his shadow in the gloom.  . . . The figure was behind him. He re-entered the shed, and shrunk down once more. The eyes were there before he had lain himself along. (Dickens 403)


He darted onward—straight, headlong—dashing through brier and brake, and leaping gate and fence as madly as the dog who careered with loud and sounding bark before him. (Dickens 403)

  • 1 Charles Dickens, The Letters of Charles Dickens, vol. 1 1820-1839, Madeline House and Graham Storey (...)

9The dog holds up a mirror to the villain’s demented mind and he stands in for his nemesis too, as the embarrassing witness to the callous deed. In this confusing, semi hallucinatory scene, the dog underlines the dissolution of human contours and it may be observed that in Cruikshank’s final plates the dog becomes increasingly ape-like. Dickens’s friend John Forster went as far as to complain, in a letter to the publisher Richard Bentley, that Cruikshank had depicted the dog as ‘a tail less baboon,’1 a throwback to a previous stage of evolution. In the published version of Sikes and Nancy, one of Dickens’s last public readings, the reference to the pair of eyes recurs, just as the villain brings the loop over his head. At this crucial juncture, the presence of the dog that has been staring from behind is disclosed, suggesting a possible confusion between the mental imprint of the pair of eyes in the murderer’s distorted mind and the actual, enigmatic pair of eyes of the dog, as he is about to follow Sikes in what amounts to a joint suicide. Similarly, unruly dogs in Wuthering Heights point to occult, otherworldly forces while the domestic and gentler ones are used for purposes of harsh satire and vilification. The misanthropic curs of the beginning are identified with fiends and demons. A ‘herd of possessed swine’ (Brontë 7) remarks Lockwood in an allusion to Luke 8: 33 in which the devils are said to go out of man to enter into the swine and, almost in the same breath, he compares them to a brood of tigers. In this highly (dark) romantic fiction, the tiger image is most likely to call to mind Blake’s fearful symmetry and the undecipherable forces lurking in the forests of the night. Indeed dogs, because they may not be fully apprehended, keep an irreducible part of mystery and in this sense they partake of the Burkean sublime:

Whatever is fitted in any way to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling. (Burke)

Dog’s Agency in a Godless World

10In both Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) and Lord Jim (1900) dogs play a metaphysical role in a post-Darwinian world in which anthropocentrism has been superseded by the erratic tricks of intractable destiny. In each of the two novels, dogs are related to irrational events calling into question any sense of meaningfulness borne up by the universe. Dogs also contribute to raising ontological questions and to ushering in the condition of the modern man, orphaned in a world no longer providing answers to his existential problems. Dogs are empowered too, because they accidentally, or inexplicably, pull the plot towards unpremeditated paths in which Providence is no longer the arbiter. Said differently, dogs may perform as active agents in a deterministic chain of events whose thrust may escape, or thwart, human understanding.

11Gabriel Oak’s lot in Thomas Hardy’s novel is decided by the wanton action of a dog that chases his flock of pregnant ewes to their death, after leaping into the void from the top of a steep cliff into the sea. The ruined shepherd has to start everything from scratch thereafter. What is interesting though is the narrator’s endeavour to account for the rash instinctual action of a dog. First a filiation of a sort is provided when it is explained that the delinquent dog is the son of George who ‘had originally belonged to a shepherd of inferior morals and dreadful temper’ (Hardy 31). A victim of harsh treatments, this dog could have become vicious but instead he rapidly proved resourceful by learning how to make himself useful and becoming fully reliable. Not so with his offspring, which incidentally is not even given a name other than George’s son. The narrator snidely suggests that the reckless younger dog was prompted to act foolishly despite all the efforts made to train him. The dog indeed had only registered one single action from the lessons he had been taught; that of chasing the flock, as a monomaniacal instinct blindly applied regardless of circumstances. Hardy generalizes from this pastoral tragedy to take issue with philosophers who blindly uphold their abstract principles and stick to them to their utmost consequences, oblivious to the fact that the world is made up of compromise. What the scene callously proves is the divorce between man’s willpower and the stubbornness, or doggedness, of a dog ironically expecting ‘some great reward for services rendered’ (Hardy 33). The maddened animal embodies a blind mechanical force which alienates Gabriel, both because the shepherd loses any hold on his destiny all of a sudden, and because he is all at once precipitated into the nomadic condition of the modern man, forced to leave everything behind to survive.

12The yellow dog or ‘wretched cur’ incident in Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1900) provides yet another example of a dog used as an agent of destiny in a world singularly devoid of telos. At first glance, the incident serves to bring Marlow and Jim together but, more deeply, it already signals Marlow’s uncertainty of ever understanding the eponymous Lord Jim. Considered for itself alone, the yellow dog exemplifies radical otherness. First it seems as peripheral, incidental, or even parasitic, a hindrance to the main plot, as it were. When all the attention should be focused on Jim as he leaves the tribunal, there appears to be close by a mangy, native tyke with native villagers. As postcolonial critics have shown this unnamed, yellow dog belongs to another story than the one which constitutes Conrad’s plotline. The fact is that this alien tale is bound to remain a tantalizing narrative matrix on the outskirts of the white man’s colonial adventure story. And, yet, through a mere coincidence this trivial, local colour vignette—‘a venerable villager . . .  sat on a mat outside the [court’s] door . . .  the yellow dog  . . . weaving himself in and out amongst people’s legs in that mute stealthy way native dogs have’ (Conrad 46)—stumbles into the main storyline. Because the dog leaps away from the white man leaving the court, someone shouts: ‘Look at that wretched cur’ which Jim mistakes for an insult from the man the nearest to him who, at that point, happens to be Marlow. The placid, phlegmatic Lord Jim, who has hitherto stoically endured the humiliating accusations of the court, is taken unawares and loses his self-control alongside with years of acculturation to a highly civilised culture forbidding any undue expression of emotion. Conrad suggests the devious, unexpected way in which disjointed events are randomly concatenated. This yellow dog, which accidentally triggers the encounter between Marlow and Jim and makes the novel possible, paradoxically remains estranged from it. On realizing his error, Lord Jim casts a quick glance at the dog and only sees in it its radical otherness, which in turn leads him to own up to his own self-alienation: ‘He appeared at first uncomprehending, then confounded, and at last scared and amazed as though a dog had been a monster and he had never seen a dog before’ (Conrad 48). Thus a dog, peripheral to the text, and from a foreign culture to boot, provokes an experience of defamiliarization, or more precisely ostranenie, as theorized by Victor Shklovsky, in other words a radical break from one’s usual frame of perception and the consciousness of a severance with the perceived object (12). This destabilizing moment induced by a mere dog undermines the ontological foundations of the character and makes of Jim the forerunner of modernist characters.

13Far From the Madding Crowd and Lord Jim invite the reader to consider the dog’s otherness from yet another angle. Conrad probably knew about Charles Darwin’s remarks on the parallel between a dog’s steadfast attachment to his master and religious feeling when he depicted Montague Brierly’s dog, Rover (Conrad 99). In The Descent of Man, Darwin had indeed remarked that a dog who loves his master shows the closest equivalent in the human world to that complex of emotions identified as religious devotion (Darwin 68). The black retriever has to be locked in when the captain drowns himself to prevent him from achieving the ultimate proof of unconditional bond which Bull’s-Eye for its part demonstrated in Oliver Twist. Hardy, for his part, tackles the equation between dog and master’s bond on the one hand and dog and religious feeling on the other, from a different viewpoint. On Casterbridge highway when the poor, and helpless Fanny, in a parturient state, strives to make her way to the Union Workhouse she is miraculously assisted by a canine Good Samaritan. Hardy goes to great length to turn the animal into a figure from a Christian parable. First the reference to any specific breed is transcended: ‘Whether Newfoundland, mastiff, bloodhound, or what not, it was impossible to say. He seemed to be of too strange and mysterious a nature to belong to any variety among those popular nomenclatures’ (Hardy 206). The novelist then proceeds to elevate the dog’s strangeness to the level of the numinous, hoisting him up to the canine sublime: ‘Being thus assignable to no breed, he was the ideal embodiment of canine greatness’ (Hardy 206). Interestingly, Hardy who was critical of institutionalized faith finds an example of Christian benevolence in the most humble of creatures: a nondescript dog. Failing to recognize the animal’s innate bounty, the employee of the workhouse stones the dog away, so that the Christic paradigm of self-sacrifice is reincarnated in one lesser, humble creature. To this elevating sublime may be opposed a form of inverted sublime. Instead of raising the human condition to the pinnacle of neo-Platonism it would pull it down to the sub- or infra-human. To conjure up this condition of abysmal degradation Conrad refers to dogs. Just as Lord Jim is about to desert his ship and leave behind the pilgrims ‘walled up quick in a roomy grave’ (Conrad 75), he finds himself deprived of speech to articulate impulses which are too primitive and unfamiliar. The cacophony of mongrels, curs and dogs howling and outbarking each other (Conrad 73) is used as a substitute for words to call up the debasing instant when ‘the obscure truth [was] momentous enough to affect mankind’s conception of itself…’ (Conrad 59). From the sublime to the inverted sublime, dogs and dog imagery are resorted to to picture humankind in excess under or over itself.


14A quick survey of the presence of dogs in Victorian novels from 1837 to 1900 has established that without departing significantly from anthropomorphism, the canine species affords a decentred perspective both on man and society. Dogs are introduced to fit in with an aesthetic, ideological or even political agenda. Some writers like Charles Dickens have evinced a genuine interest in dogs that is not confined to the use they make of them in their fiction. They often owned dogs so that the descriptive vignettes they insert in their narratives are based on first hand observation akin to ethology. This essay has underscored how far dogs, rather than serving as man’s adjunct or adherent, dramatise borders and liminality by eliciting questions on the thin, changing boundary line between the human and the non-human. Rather than remaining within the confines of the tamed domestic, this canine investigation has constantly verged on the uncanny and the potential for writing under or above the human it fosters. In the end, the furthest these novels may stray away from the anthropomorphic fallacy is by thinking up dogs as irreducibly riddling. The presence of these wayward, maverick representatives of the canine species contributes to triggering unaccounted-for mechanisms, rerouting plotlines and therefore routing any previously mapped out diegetic itinerary.

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Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 1847. London: Penguin Classics, 2003.

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Shklovsky, Victor. ‘Art as Technique’. 1916. Russian Formalist Criticism. Four Essays. Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P, 1965. 3‒24.

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1 Charles Dickens, The Letters of Charles Dickens, vol. 1 1820-1839, Madeline House and Graham Storey (eds), Oxford: Pilgrim Edition, Oxford Clarendon Press, 1965, 451.

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Electronic reference

Georges Letissier, « From Dog Alterity to Canine Sublime: A Cross-Century Reading of Victorian Fiction », Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [Online], 85 Printemps | 2017, Online since 21 March 2017, connection on 24 February 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/cve.3224

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About the author

Georges Letissier

Georges Letissier is professor of English Literature at Nantes University, France. He has published articles both in French and in English, in France and abroad (Aracne, Palgrave Macmillan, Rodopi, Brill, Routledge, Dickens Quarterly, V&R Unipress) on Victorian literature (C. Dickens, G. Eliot, W. Morris, C. Rossetti) and on contemporary British fiction (P. Ackroyd, K. Amis, A. S. Byatt, A. Gray, A. Hollinghurst, L. Norfolk, I. McEwan, W. Self, G. Swift, S. Waters, J. Winterson). He has published a monograph on Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier (Éditions du Temps, 2005). He has edited a volume entitled Rewriting, Reprising: Plural Intertextualities, Cambridge Scholars (December 2009) and co-edited with Michel Prum a book on Darwin’s legacy in European cultures (l’Harmattan, 2010). He has worked extensively on Dickens and After Dickens recently whilst keeping a keen interest in the most recent developments in contemporary British fiction-writing. His interest in Ford Madox Ford as a hinge between late Victorianism and Modernism has incited him to publish recently a chapter on ‘Paris Fluctuat…Ford Madox Ford’s Urban Psychogeography’ in Ford Madox Ford’s Cosmopolis: Psychogeography, Flânerie and the Cultures of Paris, A. Becquet and C. Davison eds. (Brill, 2016).
Georges Letissier est professeur à l’Université de Nantes. Il a publié des articles en français et en anglais, en France et à l’étranger (Aracne, Palgrave Macmillan, Rodopi, Brill, Routledge, Dickens Quarterly, V&R Unipress) sur la littérature victorienne (C. Dickens, G. Eliot, W. Morris, C. Rossetti) et sur la fiction et la poésie contemporaines britanniques (P. Ackroyd, K. Amis, A. S. Byatt, C. A. Duffy, A. Gray, A. Hollinghurst, L. Norfolk, I. McEwan, W. Self, G. Swift, S. Waters, J. Winterson). Il a publié une monographie sur Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier (Éditions du Temps, 2005). Il s’intéresse au phénomène de la réécriture et a édité un volume intitulé Rewriting, Reprising: Plural Intertextualities, Cambridge Scholars (Décembre 2009). Il a co-dirigé avec Michel Prum un ouvrage sur l’héritage de Darwin dans les cultures européennes (l’Harmattan, 2010). Récemment il s’est consacré à Dickens et à sa postérité littéraire tout en gardant un intérêt constant pour les développements récents de la fiction britannique. Son intérêt pour Ford Madox Ford comme figure charnière entre l’époque victorienne tardive et le modernisme l’a amené à publier récemment un chapitre « Paris Fluctuat…Ford Madox Ford’s Urban Psychogeography » dans l’ouvrage Ford Madox Ford’s Cosmopolis: Psychogeography, Flânerie and the Cultures of Paris. (A. Becquet and C. Davison, eds.) Brill, 2016.

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