Charles Dickens: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2050 words)


Arguably the most famous unfinished novel in the English language, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is also itself all about incompletion, fragmentation, interruption, endings and the failure of endings. The novel, that is, anticipates its own incompletion. After all, the pawnbroker in Cloisterham “offers vainly […] unredeemed […] odd volumes of dismal books” (p.52, Penguin Edition, 1985), one of which, presumably, might be The Mystery of Edwin Drood itself. In this way, Dickens's final novel continues and, indeed, discontinues the narratorial strategy of Dickens's previous novel, Our Mutual Friend (1864-5), in which stories are continually breaking up and clashing with one another.

Dickens began w…

Citation: Taylor, Jonathan. "The Mystery of Edwin Drood". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 October 2002 [, accessed 18 August 2022.]

114 The Mystery of Edwin Drood 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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