Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Ed. Margaret Cardwell. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. [PR4560/A1/1993]

This contemporary scholarly edition contains contains as close to an autoritative text as we are likely to have for some time to come. Anyone wanting to write on the novel should consult the editor's invaluable introduction, which contains the history of the novel's composition, revision, and publication.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Ed. Janice Carlisle. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996.

This entry in Bedford's Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism series contains the usual excellent introductions to contemporary critical theory by Ross C. Murfin, the series editor, and Janice Carlisle's critical history of the novel plus her choice of essays supposedly exemplifying psychoanalytic, deconstructive, feminist, gender, and cultural approaches to it. Although hardly as impressive as Linda H. Peterson's edition of Wuthering Heights in the same series, this edition does offer a more-or-less useful sampling of various approaches, though editorial choice seems more dedicated to trendiness than usefulness.

Hilary Schor's excellent essay on violence and desire, the representative of feminist criticism here, seems by far the best of the appended essays, while the example of cultural criticism seems a trendy repackaging of an old-fashioned influence-of-Dickens study — and like such studies, it tells little about the novel. Given the abundance of recent fine work in colonial and postcolonial studies, the brief selections from Edward Said seem inadequate and ill-suited to convey to the intended undergraduate audience the range of either Said's important work or of postcolonial studies. Finally, one misses examples of any approaches emphasizing information technology, publishing practice, and the material conditions of textuality and authorship.

Last modified December 2003