One such text that comes immediately to mind is Jean Rush’s Wide Cargos Sea, which retells Jane Ere from the postcolonial perspective of the madwoman in the attic, thus drawing attention to he ways in which Charlotte Bronze’s novel inscribes the discourse of empire. In composing Jack Mages, Carrey was motivated by a similar goal: to supply the suppressed point of view of Able Magnetic, the transported convict and secret benefactor of Pip from Dickens’s Great Expectations. As Carrey maintained in an interview with Ramona Kavas, “Dickens’s classic text encourages you to “take the British point of view.
And with that view, you love Pip, he’s your person, and so suddenly Magnetic is this dark terrible other” (2). By shifting the focus from the Resurrection to the antipodean perspective, from Pip (here Henry Phipps) to Magnetic (here Mages), Carrey allows for the colonized other to take control of his story, even as en is subject to the tales and inventions to others. The result is a profoundly sympathetic portrayal of a man who endures many hardships, first in England and then in the penal colony, at the hands of the British Crown, but manages to retain his humanity and regain a sense of belonging.
More than that, in Jack Mages Carrey takes the rewriting process one step further, for not only is he re-imagining Dickens’s fictional creation, but he also inverts its author into a character, Tibias Dates, who is and is not Dickens. The story of Tibias Dates invites intriguing parallels with the documented biography of Dickens, which, as indicated in a note prefacing the novel, Carrey takes the liberty to transform “to suit his own fictional ends. Carrey confessed that because Dickens “knew the truth but distorted it,” it took him “a long time to complicate that character and to stop being hard on him and to love him a little” (2). However, what is “the truth” that Carrey is after, and exactly how did Dickens distort it? This question bears rather scrutiny, especially in the light of the author’s disclaimer quoted above and of the postmodern suspicion of truth, history, and objectivity.
As much as it harks back to Dickens and the caravansaries world of his fiction, with its urban realism and interpenetration of competing discourses, Jack Mages tells a distinct story: for, as Carrey put it, “it is such an Susie story that this person who has been brutalized by the British ruling class should then wish to have as his son an English gentleman, and that no matter what pains he has, what torture he has suffered, that would be what he would want. While hoping that this story reflects “the Australia of the past, not the Australia of the future,” Carrey also concedes the impossibility of fully knowing the past.
His Dickens pastiche feels to Carrey like “a science fiction of the past in a way. None of us has been there. We have a lot of received opinion and it’s intimidating to write because there are all these experts, but we don’t really know’ (“Interview’ 2). To be sure, Jack Mages attests to the unflagging desire knowledge of the past that informs a late technetium category of fiction known as the metaphorical evolve, or to use a term coined by Amy J. Alias, the “metaphorical romance,” in which the “virtually’ of the past accounts for the difficulty of recreating the emotional and psychological reality of another time.
The conflation of personal memory and cultural consciousness forces readers to reconsider the meaning and significance of history, which, as Alias explains, for the postmodern, post-traumatic,metaphorical imagination, is “something we know we can’t learn, something we can only desire (xviii). Although stylistically more conventional than other postmodern metaphorical sets, such as Julian Barney’s Flatfeet’s Parrot, Peter Cockroach’s Chesterton, or Jeannine Wintergreen’s Sexing the Cherry, Jack Mage shares with these a treatment of the past as a textual construction under constant revision, scrutiny, and interrogation.
Caress novel, The History of Kelly Gang (2002), also about a convict in 19th century Australia, takes its epigraph from William Faulkner Requiem for a Nun: “The past is not dead. It is not even past. ” This notion of continuity between the past and The present operates in Jack Mages, where the narrative moves backward and forward in time, arcing us to examine the present in the light of the remembered past, and that past in the light of the present.
Writing out of an antipodean consciousness, Carrey insists that man can neither disavow the past nor evade the present, which carries within it not only the inescapable burden of the past but also the possibilities and responsibilities of the future. Jack Mages makes the reader acutely aware not only of the constructiveness of the past, but of creativity as well, since the novel itemizes appropriation as its chief modus operandi.
Within the novel’s intellectual framework, neither Dickens’s erosion of the convicts story, nor Magma’s own account of his experience of exile, nor certain biographical facts about Dickens himself can escape factorization. Both intellectuality and metrification figure heavily in Jack Mages, creating a narrative hybrid in which art spills over into life, fiction into history, to the point where they become almost indistinguishable, calling into question what ultimately comprises history.
Like Dickens, Carrey is a highly self-conscious, experimental writer who is stretching the range and power of the novel form to explore the increasingly complex ensue of the self within the Victorian society. In what follows, the researcher starts from the premise that Career determination of the workings of human consciousness and memory cannot be conceived apart from his inquiry into the practice and values of fiction making.
The researcher remarks Career revisionist undertaking in Jack Mages exposes the political and cultural stakes of an ideology of authorship that operated selectively, in complicity with the imperial ideology of his time, and in the service of both the “material interests and cultural capital of writers” (Deane 50). In order to explore the onions inherent in Dickens’s realist practice and in the construction of the authorial self, The researcher has found it useful to divide the essay into three sections, although they tend to overlap and merge into one another.
First the researcher takes up a series of critical arguments that reconsider the traditional description of the realist novel as the chief agent of the moral imagination and implicitly the view of Dickens as a “sympathetic friend” (Deane xiii) to characters and readers alike. In Carry’s novel, as we will see, Dickens’s text seems to be a scientific compiler of facts bout Jack Mages, whom he regards as a case study, rather than a friend.
Looking at Mages, Dates reflects that he himself “would be the archeologist of this mystery; he would be the surgeon of his soul” (54). His anxious fascination with penetrating the “Criminal Mind” through mesmeric experiments is exposed as a bid for power instead of a meaner to make the other “less other,” so to speak, by acknowledging his loss and suffering. Then the researcher turns to Magma’s personal history, which Carrey intends tort us to see as boot the embodiment to the truth suppressed by
Dickens’s narrative and yet another interpretation of a traumatic past. Finally, The researcher will probe the intersections between Dates and Dickens’s life stories, and tease out the ethical and psychological ramifications of the “crooked business” in which Dates is embroiling Mages. Dickens, Carrey, and the Ethics of Storytelling From his early short stories to My Life as a Fake, Carrey has demonstrated the power of words to name reality, to transfigure it, to alter consciousness, and to imprison it in the house of fiction.
This interest in the deceptive as well as liberating rower of storytelling Carrey maintains throughout Jack Mages, which can be read as a reflection upon the creative process itself and upon the rights and moral responsibilities of writers. Margaret Atwood confides that being a writer “is not always a particularly blissful or fortunate role to find yourself saddled with, and it comes with a price; though, like many roles, it can lend a certain kind of power to those who assume the costume” (5).
But, she adds, “the costume varies,” determined as it is by “other people’s biases” about, or expectations of, writers. Dickens’s wide popular appeal, however, seems to Justify Nicola Bradbury assertion that: By accident and by design, Dickens effectively determined the shape, pace, structure, and texture of his own novel form, and developed both professional expectations of the writer and reader in the production and reception of his work.
He made the novel what it was for the Victorians, creating and managing an appetite for fictions that would in turn make both imaginative and social demands. (152) Dickens regarded literature as a noble and serious endeavourer?”a perpetual struggle after an expression of the Truth, which is at once the pleasure and the pain n the lives of us workers of the arts” (CTD. In Ileitis 95-96).
What counts as truth for Dickens is not so much what is historically verifiable, but rather “what takes shape in the mind”?the use that the imagination makes of real- life experiences (Ileitis 194). A remark that Dickens made about a prisoner entering Jail, and that applies Mages too, suggests that reality, for the mind, is always in flux: “His [the prisoner’s] confinement is a hideous vision; and his old life a reality. But as time passes, “the world without has come to be the vision, and this solitary life, the sad reality’ (194). And so it is not the experience of the convict, but rather “the story about him,” that creates truth for Dickens. By the same token, an accurate expression of this truth depends on one’s willingness to “De-center,” to enter other stories, however terrifying, and assume their perspectives. One can ask was: Dickens able to dully live up to this ideal, and, if not, what might account for his (partial) failure?
Dickens was indeed able to create an enormous variety of characters, many of them are very different from himself, and to give a plausible account of their consciousness. Since a closer examination of Dickens’s actual method of creating characters will be offered in another section of this essay, here The study will dwell on Dickens’s characterization of Able Magnetic and Career response to it. Within Dickens’s fiction we sense the driving force of a passionate, life- affirming energy, compounded equally of mind and body, of feeling and thought.
John Bowen defines this ethical dimension of Dickens’s writing in terms of an “opening to difference and to the other” that is not limited to compassion, that “does not eschew or fear emotion?no, not tears or rage, or anything” (30). Along the same lines, Grahame Smith claims that Dickens “could only have created Magnetic out of a love that enabled him to enter systematically into a life completely foreign to his own, at which he may Just have glimpsed during the worst moments of the blacking factory episode” (6).
The well-known “Autobiographical Fragment” written for John Forester in 1847 recounts Dickens’s one-year (or nearly so) stint at Warren Blacking Factory, a shoe-polis warehouse, in 1824. This painful, humiliating episode had a lasting impact on Dickens’s life and art, serving to explain the harsh view of parent’s hat permeates his fiction and that was not lost on Carrey. “As with other aspects of his personal experience,” the episode is “objectified and transformed by Dickens into a comprehensive artistic vision of a apparentness, above all, a fatherless, world” (6-7).
One of Dickens’s famous statements concerning the blacking factory experience helps to explain his preoccupation with the themes of alienation and betrayal: “l do not write resentfully or angrily: for I know how all these things have worked together to make me what I am: but I never afterwards forgot, I never shall roger, I never can forget, that my mother was warm for my being sent back” (Forester l- 2).
In Carry’s novel, these themes resonate throughout Magma’s account of his childhood: the foster mother who criminals Mages bears the name Ma Brittle, an unmistakable variation on Mother Britain, the country that brutalizes and ultimately rejects Mages as a delinquent other. As Magma’s employer, Percy Buckle, tells Dates in relation to his own sister who was also transported to Australia, “God help us all, that Mother England would do such a thing to one of her own” (89).
Carry’s novel makes irresponsible parenting symbolic of the lack of sustenance offered by the “mother country’ to its dependencies. Like Dickens, Carrey has invested his quirky, inventive fiction with an urgent moral purpose: “l have made a whole career out of making my anxieties get up and walk around, not only in my own mind but in the minds of readers” (CTD. In Pierce 181-82). Carrey also believes that a writer’s responsibility is “to imagine what it is to be others.
It’s an act of empathy, and it’s not only what we do, it’s a socially useful act to imagine oneself to be other than one is” (CTD. In Kavas). Hence, is passion for stating the case of the marginalia, which he does so compellingly in Jack Mages, without lapsing into sentimentality. Dickens’s humane concern Witt the Tate to the downturn Eden cannot be questioned His philanthropic activity, polemic Journalism, speeches, and fiction, testify to his genuine interest in their suffering and to his “great desire,” which “was not merely to communicate but to commune with his readers” (Ileitis 141).
Both the serialization of his work and the public readings late in his career kept Dickens closer to his readers, whom he addressed for more than Just profit. No one thinks first of Mr.. Dickens as a writer,” explained a critic in the North American Review,” He is at once, through his books, a friend” (CTD. In Deane 28). Dickens’s strong impact as a reader of his works has been compared to the influence exerted by the mesmeric operator on his subjects.
Reaching out to his audiences, Fred Kaplan writes, Dickens was “like a mass mesmeric, exploring and expanding himself through imposing himself and his own vision on others” (118). “Longing” is a key word here, alerting us to the manipulative aspect of the writer’s communicative process. If communication is one-sided, the desired communion with the audience would seem impossible to achieve. Dickens’s relationship to his audience was in fact as complicated as that to his characters and, more generally, to the society he lived in.
As a man of his time, Dickens neither fought openly against society’s conventions nor allowed himself to be mastered by them. Smith marshals convincing evidence suggesting that, “Dickens came to see himself as peripheral” to the society whose abuses he relentlessly criticized, “although he continued to regard himself as of the center in relation to the ever increasing popular, if not always critical, appeal of his work. ” Wealth and fame aligned Dickens with the power structures, whereas his refusal to buy land apparently excluded him from these.
His role as “an insider-outsider” to the economy of the empire links Dickens, on the one hand, with, Pip, the London gentleman, and, on the other, with Magnetic, the “black slave” of the English class system. More precisely, “the link between Magnetic and Dickens is clear, not only in their self- created riches, but in their ownership, the one of a “brought-up” gentleman, the other of a fictional character (Smith 51). Carrey, we will see later, uses the trope of “ownership” to foreground the possession of secrets, in addition to wealth, as a determining factor in the power dynamics between the writer figure and the eponymous hero.
For Carrey, as for other writers and critics, Dickens’s interrogation of Englishmen was undermined by his middle-class position. Without denying that “more than his predecessors and contemporaries in the English novel,” Dickens strove “to give voice to the silent oppressed,” Brian Cheated observes that Dickens “was anything but a radical reformer, and in standing up for fellow-feeling and mono humanity he looked to promote social change very much on middle-class terms” (103). Dickens’s perception of colonial Australia reinforces this claim.
Robert Hughes impressive account of Australia’s felon origins, and the “long” history of their “sublimation,”purports to show that The idea to the ‘convict stain’ dominated all arguments about Australian sell the ass’s and was the main rhetorical figure used in the movement to abolish transportation. Lets leaders called for abolition, not in the name of an independent territory, but as Britons who felt their decency impugned by the survival of conviction. (xi-xii) Dickens was among the reformers who opposed transportation on both moral and economic grounds.
Along with Journalist Samuel Sidney, philanthropist Caroline Chisholm, and writers Harriet Martinets and Edward Bubbler-Layton, he shared the belief that Australia could become a “pastoral Arcadia” by way of yeoman emigration. This idealized view of life in the colonies ignored, however, the harsher realities of “drought, fire, and flood” that often confronted the farmers (Hughes 557-58). It also masked “the distaste verging on dread with which some middle-class Englishmen [Dickens included ] viewed the transported convict ‘making good’ in exile” (585).
Both these perceptions informed Dickens’s ambivalent portrayal of Magnetic as a demonic figure bent on revenge, “capable of redemption” as long as he never returned to England. Suffering “warped” Magnetic?as it did other convicts ?into a “permanent” outsider (586). Along the same lines, John Bayle, sees the terror the returned Magnetic unleashes in Pip as deriving from the fear of being possessed by another, and calls this “the direst threat Dickens’s unconscious knows” (93).
This certainly seems to be the case with Tibias Dates, whose fascination with the other’s Criminal Mind” turns gradually into fear and ultimately into repulsion. It can be argued, of course, that such a warped view of the other, as well as the anxiety attendant upon it, was inescapable within the emerging capitalist system of Victorian England. Nor could it be resisted, except partially, given that “the racist inequities of the colonial periphery were inaccessible to metropolitan experience” (Cheated 103).
The reality of these contemporary ills looms large in Magma’s chronicle of his factorization, resurfacing during the hypnotic sessions orchestrated by Dates. To the extent that Carry’s narrative is concerned with resounding this grim reality, with seeking out and articulating the repressed, its aim is to restore the truth, or at least test it through imaginative methods. As the arguments reviewed above indicate, this was a truth that Dickens may or may not have fully known, but that he too pursued.
To put it in Alias’s terms, the meta- historical consciousness in Carry’s novel aligns itself with the consciousness of the Other, confronting the Self with the nightmare of history in which the Self too is implicated. At one point in the narrative, Mages admits to a “strange thing”: the Phantom” that has been haunting his dreams was planted inside him by no one but Dates himself, who had claimed the power to be the “surgeon” of the convicts soul.
A metaphor tort the otherness embedded in the English psyche, the “Phantom” remains ?for both Dates and Mages?a terrifying presence up until the latter decides to leave England and return to New South Wales for good. Speaking of phantoms, in telling the story of a story?the writing of Great Expectations?Carrey too is conjuring up ghosts?of the author, of his literary artifact, and of his characters?all made strange even as they seem familiar. In his will, Dickens implored?the actual verb he used is the archaic friends “on no account to make me the subject of any monument, memorial, or testimonial whatever” (CTD. N Bowen 30). Writing is granted as “a free gift,” for which remembrance is the only form of “repayment. ” This injunction, Bowen correctly remarks, places readers in “a double bind,” as these are expected “both to memorial and not to memorial Dickens’s writing and name” (31). Jack Mages registers the force and significance of Dickens’s name and writing?Carry’s indebtedness to Dickens?at the same time that it makes the latter expansible for a “debt” implicit in his distortion of the truth about Magnetic.
The Purloined Story Jack Mages is most impressive for its creative energy, which issues forth in the proliferation and interaction of story lines, modes, tones, styles, rhythms, and voices ?all able to inscribe as well as challenge and destabilize different ideological positions. James Bradley has described the text’s multi-layered structure as a “kind of fictional double gambit,” in which “the story-telling process is twice internalized, by the novelist, Tibias Dates, and the narrator of the novel (or more accurately meta- evolve)” (2).
Among the novel’s stories within stories, the most obvious are Magma’s own account of his factorization and Taste’s drafts of his planned novel. In Jack Mages Carrey imagines the sources for novelist Tibias Taste’s creation of his 1860 novel, The Death of Jack Mages, which he abandons in 1837?the year when Oliver Twist was published?to take it up again in 1859. The fictive date of publication corresponds to that of Dickens’s Great Expectations (serialized between 1860 and 1861 in All the Year Round).
Carrey offers his readers a context drawn from Dickens’s personal life as well s from early Victorian England?both intimately informing Dickens’s work and art. London comes alive with the specificity of Dickens’s own graphic evocation of the smells, textures, tastes, sounds, and feel of the metropolis, from its stylish houses to its back lanes and snugger. Career novel is more explicit, however, in its presentation of gritty details, of squalor and sexuality, than Dickens’s.
The narrative opens in April 1837, when Mages, who had been deported as a criminal at an early age, returns to London in secret and at great risk, to seek out the son he adopted any years before. Like Magnetic, Mages has devoted his life to raising a simple “orphaning” out of poverty and into the life of a gentleman. Unlike Dickens, who leaves the source of Mastitis’s fortune ambiguous, Carrey makes it clear that Magma’s wealth was hard-won (the result of brick making). Finding Phipps house empty, he takes employment next door in the household to Percy Buckle, a dormer grocer turned gentleman.
During his first day as a footman, he is struck by an excruciating attack of pain, which one of the dinner guests, Tibias Dates, claims he can treat through animal magnetism. In the person of Dates, Carrey is giving us a glimpse of Dickens’s younger self, as he is rising in his literary profession. Having earned a degree of fame as the inventor of “Captain Cruelly’ (a variation on Mr.. Picking) and “Mrs.. Moreland,” Dates channels his ambitions into a new project, a study of the Criminal Mind. Once introduced to Mages, the novelist feels drawn to his mysterious mind, in which he suspects lies hidden a “world as rich as London itself.
What a puzzle of life exists in the dark little lane-ways of this wretched soul, what stolen gold lies hidden in the vaults beneath his filthy streets” (90). Dates persuades Mages to allow himself to be hypnotized by offering him a deal: if the writer can, through magnetism, “sketch the beast” within Mages, he promises to introduce Mages to the notorious “Thief-taker,” who in turn can help him find his long lost son. From this point on, the relationship between these two “writer figures”?stiffeners in their cultural position, yet so similar in other respects?takes center stage.
The background Carrey gives Mages is strikingly similar to that of many Dickens protagonists: orphaned, poverty, dreadful labor, abandonment, betrayal, social humiliation, and oppression. Lonely and vulnerable, but defiant and resilient, Mages immediately wins our sympathy: “l am an old dog … Who has been treated bad, and has learned all sort of tricks he wishes he never had to know’ (72-73). Magma’s self-characterization brings to mind Grahame Smith’s point about Dickens’s radicalism in his social and personal life.
Much like Dickens, Mages comes across as a man who, “rightly or wrongly, felt himself driven to desperate measures by desperate times” (Smith 15). Brutish and violent, Mages is determined to put his life in order and record his own story, which he does by writing it backward n invisible ink. This peculiar method suggests his eagerness to simultaneously reveal and conceal his troubled past, Just as he is torn between the compulsion to speak out and keep silent. “Even the lowest type of renegade,” says Dates, “has an inner need to give up the truth. It is what our fathers called ‘conscience. We all have it. For the criminal, it is like a passion to throw himself Off high place” (28). We will see that although driven by the same need, Dates is in fact hiding the truth about his private life under a respectable camouflage, and sees nothing wrong with twisting the truth hat Mages “gives up”during the mesmeric sessions. Magma’s “high hope” is that the story he is so painstakingly transcribing will strike a sympathetic chord in Phipps, who will then accept Mages for who he has become after his Australian sojourn: “l cannot bear him to think me a common criminal,” he tells Dates (228).
The letters fail, however, to move the young gentleman, who instead perceives them as “harbingers of destruction,” a threat to his comfortable life. As it soon becomes clear, Phipps has no wish to meet Mages, except to murder him in order to secure the house in Great Queen Street the latter provisioned trot attar. Weak, callous, and snobbish, Phipps eludes his benefactor’s pursuit, Just as the latter’s dream of an idealized England becomes more and more elusive.
Jack Mages is on many levels a novel of confinement, in which prison figures as an abusive enforcer of the law, as well as a complex metaphor for social relations and psychological life. The prison in New South Wales adds to other images of imprisonment that we encounter in the course of the novel, images that point, on the one hand, to Mages’ alienation from society and, on the other, to his struggle with himself. Mages recalls that in his penitentiary, Sills had more freedom than he and Sophia did, continuing to “control much of our activity and to take, according to Tom, the lion’s share of the profits” (213, 208).
Mages’ and Sophia’s confinement in the house of Ma Brittle did not shelter them against dubious practices, for the rooms they were supposed to clean were those where Ma Brittle performed abortions. While providing escape from such drudgery, the burglary expeditions only reinforced their imprisonment in the criminal life. As the events unfold, it becomes less and less clear whether Magma’s criminality is inherent or the product of his environment. The question that the Judge asks of Sophia at the trial as imagined by Dates applies to Mages too: “Do you mean that you are a thief by nature or a thief as evidenced by these charges? (276). The criminal Justice system uses these charges to demonic, dispossess, and dislocate Mages, abandoning him to a strange land whose otherness Mages comes to embody. This otherness is extremely unsettling, as it carries with it the memories and legacies of imperialism. Upon his return from the colony, the outcast brings with him the searing image of his brutal lashing by an officer of the Crown as well as two dark socks of hair belonging to the two sons of “Australian race. Magma’s story presents a moving account of the convicts experience of exile in which he went with a soul steeped in history?personal and national?bearing in it many intertwined threads. Mages is imprisoned not merely in the harsh reality of class and colonial exploitation, but also in a roseate fantasy of England Career metaphor for the human mind is the “tin box” in which Dates locks his characters’ dark secrets that he extracts with his magnets and where Mages keeps alive the Memory of “England’s green and pleasant land” (229, 231).
Despite the losses he sustained before his deportation, when he saw his ‘brother’ Tom betray Sills Smith and his childhood sweetheart sentenced to be hanged, Mages is yearning for an England that is as much remembered as it is romanticizes. All of Magma’s references to his native country have an elegiac tone associated with loss, distance, and nostalgia for vanishing beauty and innocence. Underneath “the scalding sun” at Morton Bay, he used to imagine: the long mellow light of English summer, his mind, always, constructing piece by piece the place wherein his eyes had first opened, the home to which he would