At this time, Italians frequently roamed the streets of London and other large English towns as organ-grinders. Daryl Ogden, in an article fromStudies in the Novel, mentions this practice: "In the 1820s and 1830s, a relatively large population of Italian 'organ boys' was imported into London. These street entertainers, mentioned by Dickens in Little Dorritt, performed tricks with trained monkeys and mice while their masters played the organ. It was eventually revealed that organ boys were being trafficked in an elaborate white slave trade (the practice was subsequently denounced by Mazzini)" (Ogden, Daryl, "George Eliot and Italy: Literary, Cultural and Political Influences from Dante to the Risorgimento," Studies in the Novel, Fall 2000). So the image of Italians as poor street performers carrying around white mice would have been a particularly strong one for the Victorian audience George Eliot was writing to.From The Literature Network forums. Is it trustworthy? Well, it cites a book, you know. So it must be, right?
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Italians with white mice
I found this, while searching around for the significance of Italians with white mice: