Repetition, Rumination, Superstition: The Rituals of Our Mutual Friend

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This article offers a reading of Our Mutual Friend as a highly deliberated novel about thinkers and the nature of thinking. In particular, it seeks to demonstrate the role that repetition plays in capturing the workings of the human mind: its hesitations, fixations, and points of return. Yet, the essay also emphasizes Dickens's concern with the limits of consciousness and the ways in which individuals remain partially unknowable to themselves and others. Here, too, the function of repetition is crucial since its effects are up to a point inscrutable, irrational, enigmatic. Dickens, it is argued, conveys the partially unaccountable quality of verbal returns through his interest in the supernatural. There are times when the words of his characters are imbued with an almost uncanny repetitiveness; it is as if some kind of force speaks through an individual, prompting them to repeat certain formulae through a process of unconscious incantation. The language of Dickens's characters is often ambiguously poised between the naturalistic and the ritualistic as psychological insight shades into the quasi-ceremonial patterning of a novel where events happen, and destinies are shaped, for reasons that seem fated, unwilled, at times unfathomable.
Translated title of the contribution'Repetition, Rumination, Superstition: The Rituals of Our Mutual Friend'
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-233
Number of pages20
Issue number234
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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