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Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (version 2)

Book cover
By: (1812-1870)

Martin Chuzzlewit was Dickens 6th novel, serially published in 1843 - 44. Irrespective of the fact that Dickens considered - "Chuzzlewit is in 100 points immeasurably the best of my stories"- it failed to resonate with, or capture the public's imagination as many of its predecessors had done. However by the1850s its popularity had risen and it eventually found recognition as the great novel that it is.

The beginning is somewhat protracted but the prose is magnificent throughout. The theme of the story is about selfishness and obstinacy. The callow eponymous hero Martin Chuzzlewit is estranged from his grandfather (Martin Chuzzlewit the elder) for having the temerity to fall in love with his grandfather's ward — Mary Graham. The Chuzzlewit family are all placed under the microscope as Martin journeys on a voyage of what can only be termed as "self-discovery". His journeying takes him to America, where his experiences change him forever and he returns a far better man.

Woven around the theme of the book are some of Dickens most finely drawn characters, ranging from the comic: Seth Pecksniff, an oily unctuous hypocrite, Mrs Gamp a nurse with a propensity for strong liquor and a delightful way of mangling the English language: to the macabre Jonas Chuzzlewit a dark brooding murderer. There are plots within plots, deception and artifice abound, confidence tricksters on both sides of the Atlantic, and a vicious murder.

This is a satirical novel, particularly when Martin is in America and Dickens, who never shirked from social criticism, utilized that portion of the book to express his feelings on his experiences during his visit to America in1842. It is a comical novel, humour being prevalent throughout, witness Mrs Gamp "Rich folk may ride on camels, but it ain't so easy for em to see out of the needles eye". The irrepressible and precocious young Bailey strutting and posing in his Footman's livery. The deeply melancholic Augustus Moddle, desperate to be run over but finding no takers! and doomed to marry the wrong sister.

First Page:

LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT

by Charles Dickens

PREFACE

What is exaggeration to one class of minds and perceptions, is plain truth to another. That which is commonly called a long sight, perceives in a prospect innumerable features and bearings non existent to a short sighted person. I sometimes ask myself whether there may occasionally be a difference of this kind between some writers and some readers; whether it is ALWAYS the writer who colours highly, or whether it is now and then the reader whose eye for colour is a little dull?

On this head of exaggeration I have a positive experience, more curious than the speculation I have just set down. It is this: I have never touched a character precisely from the life, but some counterpart of that character has incredulously asked me: "Now really, did I ever really, see one like it?"

All the Pecksniff family upon earth are quite agreed, I believe, that Mr Pecksniff is an exaggeration, and that no such character ever existed. I will not offer any plea on his behalf to so powerful and genteel a body, but will make a remark on the character of Jonas Chuzzlewit... Continue reading book >>


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Reviews (Rated: 3 Stars - 1 review)

Reviewer: - February 27, 2015
Subject: Review
I'm a huge fan of Charles Dickens, but this was very hard to follow. The narrator did a very nice job and she is easy to listen to. Mr. Dickens uses too many names for one person throughout this whole book so I spent more time trying to figure out who was who then anything else. Good book just confusing.


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