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'This game is rigged': Dickens, the wire, and money

Jasper Schelstraete UGent and Gert Buelens UGent (2013) DICKENS QUARTERLY. 30(4). p.288-298
abstract
References to literature are never far away in discourse about the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire (2002-2008). It has been compared to, amongst others, nineteenth-century Russian realism, French naturalism, and Shakespearean drama. “Dickensian” is another literary reference that frequently attached itself to The Wire in early reviews, prompting the show’s creators to mockingly incorporate it into the fifth and final season. Character James Whiting, the executive editor for the Baltimore Sun, wants his contributors to bring the “Dickensian aspect” into their reporting. His understanding of “Dickensian,” however, seems to be synonymous with the kind of Tiny Tim and Paul Dombey heart-break stories that Baltimore Sun journalist Scott Templeton promptly conjures up and passes off for fact. We argue that capitalist disempowerment of individuals is where “the Dickensian aspect” of the show lies. Several of Dickens’s novels—for example Martin Chuzzlewit (1844), Bleak House (1852) and Little Dorrit (1857)—thematise the devastation wrought by the faceless and indifferent institutions of Victorian England on innocent and helpless individuals. We will show that the circumstances of production for his novels within a shifting socio-economic landscape informed Dickens’s representations of the dangers inherent to replacing personal agency in business by an anonymous stream of money. The true “Dickensian aspect” of The Wire is the identification of impersonal and ungovernable economies that originate from opaque and unchecked currents of money as the cause of social disease.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Charles Dickens, neo-capitalism, capitalism, Dickensian, The Wire, HBO
journal title
DICKENS QUARTERLY
editor
David Paroissien
volume
30
issue
4
pages
288 - 298
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000328719300003
ISSN
0742-5473
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
3222375
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-3222375
date created
2013-05-23 12:56:12
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:47:16
@article{3222375,
  abstract     = {References to literature are never far away in discourse about the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire (2002-2008). It has been compared to, amongst others, nineteenth-century Russian realism, French naturalism, and Shakespearean drama. {\textquotedblleft}Dickensian{\textquotedblright} is another literary reference that frequently attached itself to The Wire in early reviews, prompting the show{\textquoteright}s creators to mockingly incorporate it into the fifth and final season. Character James Whiting, the executive editor for the Baltimore Sun, wants his contributors to bring the {\textquotedblleft}Dickensian aspect{\textquotedblright} into their reporting. His understanding of {\textquotedblleft}Dickensian,{\textquotedblright} however, seems to be synonymous with the kind of Tiny Tim and Paul Dombey heart-break stories that Baltimore Sun journalist Scott Templeton promptly conjures up and passes off for fact. We argue that capitalist disempowerment of individuals is where {\textquotedblleft}the Dickensian aspect{\textquotedblright} of the show lies. Several of Dickens{\textquoteright}s novels---for example Martin Chuzzlewit (1844), Bleak House (1852) and Little Dorrit (1857)---thematise the devastation wrought by the faceless and indifferent institutions of Victorian England on innocent and helpless individuals. We will show that the circumstances of production for his novels within a shifting socio-economic landscape informed Dickens{\textquoteright}s representations of the dangers inherent to replacing personal agency in business by an anonymous stream of money. The true {\textquotedblleft}Dickensian aspect{\textquotedblright} of The Wire is the identification of impersonal and ungovernable economies that originate from opaque and unchecked currents of money as the cause of social disease.},
  author       = {Schelstraete, Jasper and Buelens, Gert},
  editor       = {Paroissien, David},
  issn         = {0742-5473},
  journal      = {DICKENS QUARTERLY},
  keyword      = {Charles Dickens,neo-capitalism,capitalism,Dickensian,The Wire,HBO},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {288--298},
  title        = {'This game is rigged': Dickens, the wire, and money},
  volume       = {30},
  year         = {2013},
}

Chicago
Schelstraete, Jasper, and Gert Buelens. 2013. “‘This Game Is Rigged’: Dickens, the Wire, and Money.” Ed. David Paroissien. Dickens Quarterly 30 (4): 288–298.
APA
Schelstraete, J., & Buelens, G. (2013). “This game is rigged”: Dickens, the wire, and money. (D. Paroissien, Ed.)DICKENS QUARTERLY, 30(4), 288–298.
Vancouver
1.
Schelstraete J, Buelens G. “This game is rigged”: Dickens, the wire, and money. Paroissien D, editor. DICKENS QUARTERLY. 2013;30(4):288–98.
MLA
Schelstraete, Jasper, and Gert Buelens. “‘This Game Is Rigged’: Dickens, the Wire, and Money.” Ed. David Paroissien. DICKENS QUARTERLY 30.4 (2013): 288–298. Print.