• ‘Ever so many partings welded together': Serial Settlement and Great Expectations

      Piesse, Jude; University of Chester (Pickering and Chatto, 2014-07-01)
      As the most antipodal of great British novels, Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations has often been read in the light of its peripheral but insistent engagement with colonial history. Following Edward Said’s discussion of the novel in Culture and Imperialism, its fundamentally uneasy mood has been variously attributed not only to central concerns with class and guilt, but also to those issues of colonial return and racial violence which haunt its feverish margins. Despite widespread critical appreciation of the pressure which empire exerts on the novel, however, Great Expectations has seldom been considered in relation to the history of settler emigration from Britain, which arguably constitutes its most relevant and immediate context, or in company with the large range of emigration literature which flourished alongside it in the British periodical press. Foregrounding the novel’s own often overlooked identity as a periodical serial text published in All the Year Round (1 December 1860 – 3 August 1861), this chapter situates it alongside a number of serialised novels about Australian and Canadian settler emigration which were published in equivalent journals from mid-century. I argue that reading Great Expectations in the light of these predominantly domestic and significantly serialised novels affords a means of both refining our understanding of its engagement with colonial history and reconceptualising its troubled preoccupations with home, departure, and nostalgic return.