"'Mr. Redlaw!' he exclaimed, and started up."
17.5 x 12.9 cm framed
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The Passage Illustrated
The Chemist glanced about the room; — at the student's books and papers, piled upon a table in a corner, where they, and his extinguished reading-lamp, now prohibited and put away, told of the attentive hours that had gone before this illness, and perhaps caused it; — at such signs of his old health and freedom, as the out-of-door attire that hung idle on the wall; — at those remembrances of other and less solitary scenes, the little miniatures upon the chimney-piece, and the drawing of home; — at that token of his emulation, perhaps, in some sort, of his personal attachment too, the framed engraving of himself, the looker-on. The time had been, only yesterday, when not one of these objects, in its remotest association of interest with the living figure before him, would have been lost on Redlaw. Now, they were but objects; or, if any gleam of such connexion shot upon him, it perplexed, and not enlightened him, as he stood looking round with a dull wonder.
The student, recalling the thin hand which had remained so long untouched, raised himself on the couch, and turned his head.
"Mr. Redlaw!" he exclaimed, and started up.
Redlaw put out his arm.
"Don't come nearer to me. I will sit here. Remain you, where you are!"
He sat down on a chair near the door, and having glanced at the young man standing leaning with his hand upon the couch, spoke with his eyes averted towards the ground.
"I heard, by an accident, by what accident is no matter, that one of my class was ill and solitary. I received no other description of him, than that he lived in this street. Beginning my inquiries at the first house in it, I have found him." ["Chapter Two: The Gift Diffused," British Household Edition, p. 176; American Household Edition, p. 158]
Barnard's illustration of the Poor Student and Redlaw compared to those by Frank Stone and John Tenniel (1848) and E. A. Abbey (1876)
Whereas Dickens's original illustrators — John Leech, Clarkson Stanfield, John Tenniel, and Frank Stone — were constrained by Dickens's and John Forster's oversight in their productions for the last Christmas Book, the illustrators of the British and American Household Editions of The Christmas Books, Fred Barnard and E. A. Abbey could offer fresh ideas and realise situations that their predecessors had not. In the case of Redlaw's meeting the sick student in his rooms in the Jerusalem Buildings, Barnard has created classical chiaroscuro, highlights and Rembrantesque deep shadows, by inserting a roaring fire behind the figures to inject a sense of the numinous, whereas the text (emphasizing the room's unwholesome environment) is quite clear about the inferior heating in the garret:
A meagre scanty stove, pinched and hollowed like a sick man’s cheeks, and bricked into the centre of a hearth that it could scarcely warm, contained the fire, to which his face was turned. Being so near the windy house-top, it wasted quickly, and with a busy sound, and the burning ashes dropped down fast. [British Household Edition, 175-176]
Above all, Barnard and Abbey fail to realise the despondency of Longford that Stone so effectively communicates in his posture and expression.
Tenniel's atmospheric cartoon and Stone's elegant study versus Barnard's classically modelled portrait and Abbey's more prosaic treatment: left: Tenniel's "Illustrated Double-page"; centre, Stone's "Milly and The Student"; and, right, Abbey's "'Mr. Redlaw!' he exclaimed, and started up".
Frank Stone's analeptic image of the student with a secret pertaining to Redlaw's past shows Longford as deeply depressed and confined to a couch that is not necessarily as "realistic" as Barnard's comfortably padded piece of furniture, but which implies his emotional and physical discomfort. Nevertheless, the striking image of the meeting of the Chemist and his Student is an important addition to the narrative-pictorial text of the 1848 novella. Barnard, moreover, with artistic license emphasizes the figures by reducing the scale of the student's "couch"; moreover, Barnard offers the sketchiest suggestion of the occupant's belongings and bric-a-brac.
Although E. A. Abbey's treatment of the scene in the American Household Edition may seem more faithful to the text because it includes such personal items and furnishings as Dickens specifies, it shows the room's occupant in a nightshirt and in bed, rather than dressed (as in Stone's illustration "Milly and the Student," which must have had Dickens's sanction). The original text reiterates that Longford is lying on a "couch" rather than a bed, and places the room's sole chair "near the door," rather than by the bed, which in the somewhat crowded wood-engraving effectively blocks Redlaw from advancing upon the student. The student's "books and papers, piled upon a table in a corner" in the text are now on a chest-of-drawers (left); furthermore, Abbey has omitted the "extinguished reading-lamp," and the "clothing hanging on the wall," and has made very little of the "little miniatures upon the chimney-piece, and the drawing of home." The principal deviation in the American Household Edition is that Abbey's Edmund Longford (alias, "Denham") is hardly consistent with the handsome but care-worn youth of Frank Stone's "Milly and The Student" (p. 96). Abbey's tail-coated Redlaw, with respectable middle-class cane and silk hat, facing away from the reader and towards the surprised student, lacks the sense of the ominous and mysterious that Tenniel so effectively conveys in his black-cloaked visitor holding a lantern at the top of the landing in the "Illustrated Double-page to Chapter Two" (page 53). In respect of feeling and atmosphere, then, Barnard's much simpler illustration is closer in spirit to the letterpress, especially in his conveying the numinous presence of the "pale man in a black cloak" (British Household Edition, p. 174).
However, while Abbey's illustration has the virtue of being presented almost simultaneously with the text it illustrates on page 158 of the American Household Edition, facilitating a reciprocal reading of image and text, Barnard's full-page illustration, facing the text's description of Redlaw's entrance (p. 176), is still somewhat analeptic, in that it draws on details of Redlaw's attire mentioned earlier; nevertheless, Barnard effectively realises an important textual moment in the emotional trials of the protagonist that the original illustrators failed to underscore. Tenniel leads the reader up the staircase and to the door, as it were, but does reveal what Redlaw finds in the room, or how he reacts to the revelation that "Denham" is in fact "Longford," the son of his former sweetheart who has not, like his fellow students, returned home for the holidays. Utilizing the freedom of Sixties illustrators to interpret a text without fidelity to textual details, Barnard and Abbey both must have felt that the original illustrators should have realised the scene in which Redlaw will have to confront the product of a "wrong inflicted on [him]" in his youth, and grapple with powerful emotions that have been numbed by the Phantom's dubious "gift."
Brereton, D. N. "Introduction." Charles Dickens's Christmas Books. London and Glasgow: Collins Clear-Type Press, n. d.
Cohen, Jane Rabb. Charles Dickens and his Original Illustrators. Columbus: University of Ohio Press, 1980.
Cook, James. Bibliography of the Writings of Dickens. London: Frank Kerslake, 1879. As given in Publishers' Circular The English Catalogue of Books.
Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. Il. John Leech, John Tenniel, Frank Stone, and Clarkson Stanfield. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848.
Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. Christmas Stories. Il. E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876. Pp. 143-175.
Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. Christmas Books. Il. Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878. Pp. 157-200.
Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book, 1912.
Kitton, Frederic G. Dickens and His Illustrators. 1899. Rpt. Honolulu: U. Press of the Pacific, 2004.
Parker, David. "Christmas Books and Stories, 1844 to 1854." Christmas and Charles Dickens. New York: AMS Press, 2005. Pp. 221-282.
Slater, Michael. "Introduction to The Haunted Man." Dickens's Christmas Books. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1971. Rpt., 1978. Vol. 2: 235-238.
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Solberg, Sarah A. "'Text Dropped into the Woodcuts': Dickens' Christmas Books." Dickens Studies Annual 8 (1980): 103-118.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Last modified 29 August 2012