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Published on Feb 10, 2012
Dr. Matthew Beaumont (UCL English)
This lecture investigates one of Dickens's most peculiar and enigmatic characters, Master Humphrey, the narrator of The Old Curiosity Shop (that is, until he is mysteriously dismissed from this role). It details some of Humphrey's oddities, and speculates about his puzzling past, before discreetly following him into the streets of London at night. It identifies him as a far more disturbing individual than readers of this supposedly sentimental novel tend to assume, and locates his unsettling descendants in novels by Stevenson, Joyce and Nabokov, among others.