An exploration in the problems and stakes of reading two central but historically-separated authors through one another. How theatrical are Dickens's novels and how much can we understand the theatrical, in Dickens, as a working-through of Shakespeare? How do the elements of performance manifest themselves in both? What substitutes for the role of "narrator" in Shakespearean drama? How can we understand these two authors as both paradigms of "national" writing -- defining normative British culture -- and as fundamentally eccentric?