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The Test of Truth

The Test of Truth

Our Mutual Friend

(p.148) 7 The Test of Truth
Dying to Know
George Levine
University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend. The “epistemology of death” in Dickens' novel means to be quite literal about the word epistemology. Our Mutual Friend pushes the moral resolution of detachment to the very point of death, as though the only way to escape contamination from the world of buying and selling were through death. Dickens's continuing difficulty in imagining active and socially engaged figures who could remain worthy heroes is exacerbated in Our Mutual Friend. It appears the most intrinsically acquiescent in the dominant dying-to-know model. The women's secondariness has a double effect on the experiment and the epistemological implications of Our Mutual Friend. It is also a powerful dramatization of the narrative of scientific epistemology.

Keywords:   Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, scientific epistemology, detachment, death, secondariness, dying-to-know model

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