The Bibliomania of the Golden Dustman

The Bibliomania of the Golden Dustman

Marcus Stone

Wood engraving by Dalziel

14.4 cm high x 9.4 cm wide

Stone's illustration for Book 3, "A Long Lane," Chapter 5, "The Golden Dustman Falls into Bad Company" in Charles Dickens's Our Mutual friend dramatises Boffin's apparent obsession with acquiring stories of misers' lives, which he purchases without regard to 'size, price or quality' (406), providing that the volume concerns "Anecdotes of strange characters, Records of remarkable individuals." In fact, his "mania" is part of a calculated plan to show Bella Wilfer the folly of her materialism — and the value of the faithful John Rokesmith. Standing next to Mr. Boffin, "The Golden Dustman," at a sidewalk bookstall in Stone's illustration is Bella, a juxtaposition which implies that the moment realised is this, even if the books that the pair wish to examine are in a stall rather than the window of a bookshop:

[See below for commentary and passage illustrated.]