Martin Chuzzlewit, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


With an Introduction and Notes by Dr John Bowen, Department of English, University of Keele.

Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Martin Chuzzlewit is Charles Dickens' comic masterpiece about which his biographer, Forster, noted that it marked a crucial phase in the author's development as he began to delve deeper into the 'springs of character'.

Old Martin Chuzzlewit, tormented by the greed and selfishness of his family, effectively drives his grandson, young Martin, to undertake a voyage to America.

It is a voyage which will have crucial consequences not only for young Martin, but also for his grandfather and his grandfather's servant, Mary Graham with whom young Martin is in love.

The commercial swindle of the Anglo-Bengalee company and the fraudulent Eden Land Corporation have a topicality in our own time.

This strong sub-plot shows evidence of Dickens' mastery of crime where characters such as the criminal Jonas Chuzzlewit, the old nurse Mrs Gamp, and the arch-hypocrite Seth Pecksniff are the equal to any in his other great novels.

Generations of readers have also delighted in Dickens' wonderful description of the London boarding-house - 'Todgers'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 832 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9781853262050


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This is Dickens' sixth major work, written when he was 31/32 years old. His writing skills are visibly improving, the characters are better developed and the plot structure is sound. But the reliance on coincidence and plot twists is typically Dickens. The book starts well, introducing the key characters gradually, developing them as the book proceeds. For the first time, the major villain (Pecksniff) is a rounded, believable creation. The major hero (Pinch) is also well developed, but just a little too good to be entirely credible. The seemingly obligatory comic character (Mrs Gamp) makes too many appearances and stays on the scene too long for my taste.The book was written after Dickens' first trip to the USA and he is humourously critical of much of the pretension he found there. He must have lost audience support in the US as a result, because the edition I read had a postscript, written around the time of his second visit 20 years later, stating how much the place has improved! Dickens' takes a progressive position on slavery and excoriates the practice in the US. He also paints an interesting picture of the gentleman, young Martin Chuzzlewit, learning how to live a better life from his servant, Mark Tapley - not a common position for an author to take in this era.A long book, at 786 pages, but as usual, I found myself drawn in to a real page turner in the last third of the work. Read February 2012.

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