This chapter traces the evolution of the figure of the neighbor-disguised-as-stranger and its narrative role across the oeuvre of Charles Dickens, locating the precursor for the queer narrative shift of Joyce and Proust in the criminal or ad hoc antifamilies that cluster in the underworld of Dickens's London. In Oliver Twist, Bleak House, and Great Expectations, the plot is animated by a competition between rival versions of the family, genealogical and queer, for control of the protagonists' destinies and the form of the plot. The outcome of this competition shifts over the course of Dickens's career; in Great Expectations, the various genealogical plots that try and fail to control the novel's form are eventually overwhelmed by the force of a random encounter with a criminal stranger that no family denouement can untie.
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