‘Has a dead man any use for money? … What world does money belong to? This world. How can money be a corpse’s?’
Our Mutual Friend centres on an inheritance – Old Harmon’s profitable dust heaps – and its legatees, young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and kindly dustman Mr Boffin, to whom the fortune defaults. With brilliant satire, Dickens portrays a dark, macabre London, inhabited by such disparate characters as Gaffer Hexam, scavenging the river for corpses; enchanting, mercenary Bella Wilfer; the social climbing Veneerings; and the unscrupulous street-trader Silas Wegg. Dickens’s last completed novel is richly symbolic in its vision of death and renewal in a city dominated by the fetid Thames, and of the corrupting power of money.
This edition uses the text of the first volume edition of 1865, and includes the original illustrations, a chronology, a list for further reading, and appendices on the illustrations and serial plans. Adrian Poole’s introduction examines biblical allusions and the central themes of Our Mutual Friend.