Bringing the Margin to the Centre in Peter Carey and Lloyd Jones’ Adaptations of Great Expectations

Document Type : Original Article


English Department, The Higher Institute of Languages of Tunis, Tunisia


This paper will assess the significance of empire and colonialism in Peter Carey and Lloyd Jones’ adaptations of Great Expectations. The aforesaid subjects tended to be generally peripheral in nineteenth-century Victorian fiction. Nevertheless, the marginalisation of colonial subjects and the significant gaps that it maintains in Victorian novels are being key targets for most Neo-Victorians who, fed with and inspired by postcolonial culture and discourse, venture to “bring the margin to the centre”. Written back to one of the Victorian literary centrepieces, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs and Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip provide postcolonial answers to Victorian subaltern colonial themes. While the former revisions Great Expectations by giving voice to the silenced colonial convict Magwitch and drawing attention to his relationship with empire, the latter adopts Dickens’ text to bring to light the whole theme of colonialism and highlight its political as well as cultural dimensions. Both texts present Neo-Victorian adaptations of Dickens through postcolonial perspective that sheds light on silenced Victorian colonial subjects, validating therefore Edward Said’s controversial assumptions about Orientalism and the symbiotic relationship between culture and imperialism. The ultimate aim of this paper is to show how colonial and postcolonial preoccupations feeding in these two novels have given the Neo-Victorian form a living and lively currency that has for ever changed the way we read the Victorians.