The Solitary Prisoner
15 x 9.4 cm vignetted
Special frontispiece for American Notes in A Tale of Two Cities, American Notes, Pictures from Italy, Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), vol. 13.
The highly modern realisation of the victim of the new, "advanced" solitary system of the Philadelphia Penitentiary (being emulated in Dickens's native country by Pentonville Prison, Middlesex) communicates by posture and shading alone the utter despair of the prisoner who has been incarcerated in total isolation. The frontispiece thus alerts the reader not merely to a highly moving description in Chapter Seven, "Philadelphia, and its Solitary Prison," but also for the author's disappointment on the other side of the Atlantic with the very real problems of what he had termed "the republic of my imagination" in a letter to actor and confidant William Macready. [Click on illustration to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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