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Martin Chuzzlewit

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  12,005 Ratings  ·  378 Reviews
Charles Dickens's powerful black comedy of of hypocrisy and greed, Martin Chuzzlewit is edited with an introduction and notes by Patricia Ingham in Penguin Classics.

The greed of his family has led wealthy old Martin Chuzzlewit to become suspicious and misanthropic, leaving his grandson and namesake to make his own way in the world. And so young Martin sets out from the Wil
Paperback, 830 pages
Published November 25th 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 1844)
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Steven Horwich Nope. The book is not depressing. You're depressing for asking such a silly question instead of just picking it up and reading it. it's DICKENS - that…moreNope. The book is not depressing. You're depressing for asking such a silly question instead of just picking it up and reading it. it's DICKENS - that means the story will go to some very dark places, and that it will all end up okay in the end. It also means that it contains some of the finest and most rewarding writing ever.(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Barry Pierce
This may be Dickens' most underrated book. It's right in the middle of what I like to call his forgotten period which is made up of three books, written consecutively, which I think are commonly ignored; Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, and Dombey and Son.

This novel is interesting because a lot of it actually takes place in America, as opposed to England. It's written from Dickens' personal voyage to the States in the months prior to writing this novel. And guys, oh my god, Dickens rips the sh
MJ Nicholls
Clipped Review:

Brill. Dickensian. Not ne plus ultra but close enough. More complex villains and heroes than precedents. Sublimely comic, including one hilarious scene of begging and bitching Chuzzlewits desperate for the old man’s loot. Best name: Sweedlepipe. Messy, sprawling and less structured in parts. Especially the last 40pp. But divine all the same.

A Pecksniffian Digression:

I work part-time at a homeless shelter and I always recommend Dickens as a panacea to ail the suffering hearts of th
Martin Chuzzlewit, or “the American one”, as fans of Dickens often refer to it, is “The Inimitable”’s sixth novel, written and published in twenty monthly parts between January 1843 to July 1844, when its author was between 30 and 32. It is a typical Dickensian romp of a ride, with thrills, passion, savage mockery, suspense - and flashes of absurd humour amidst the despair. The novel lunges between hyperbole and whimsy, switching at a moment’s notice, and it contains some of Dickens’s most memor ...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 28, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
This is the one where Dickens saw that the monthly sales figures were on the slide (it was published in parts, as all his novels were) and so he scrapped the entire plot he was intending to use for the rest of it and packed the hero off to America, because in 1843 America was the sexy hot topic of the day. If CD was around now, and saw the same disappointing sales figures, you'd have seen young Chuzzlewit in a gangnam style youtube video quicker than you could say "But Charles, you're supposed t ...more
Zen Cho
Reread. Martin Chuzzlewit is one of my favourite Dickenses; I love (and invariably start rereading at) the part where Martin falls ill in an American swamp and becomes a better person. Also I adore Mark Tapley.

Things I noticed about the book that I hadn't noticed before:
1. Gosh, that's a lot of vitriol against America. I am touched by Dickens's postscript, in which he takes pains to emphasise how great Americans were on his second trip there, and which he says "so long as my descendants have any
Linda Dobinson
Aug 31, 2016 Linda Dobinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been a journey, not all of it easy. There were times when the road was smooth, and times when it was full of potholes. Happily there were many instances that produced tears of laughter - Mark Tapley on being jolly (pp60-63); Mr. Tigg's pocket-handkerchief (p97); Truth in the throat of Mr. Scadder (P303); Moddle on the charmed life of some men (p599) - this was inspired by his engagement to the lovely Charity Pecksniff, the ''sweet child'' was overawed by his singular good fortune; ...more
The Best of Boz and the Worst of Boz

Martin Chuzzlewit, which was published between 1843 and 1844 in monthly instalments and can be regarded as Dickens’s last excursion into the genre of picaresque writing – his next major novel, Dombey and Son would not see its first instalment before October 1846 and was much more carefully planned –, witnessed a further waning of the star of Dickens’s popularity as a writer, a development that had already started with its forerunner Barnaby Rudge. Dickens reac
Brian Robbins
Jul 22, 2012 Brian Robbins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading (or in this case listening to) Dickens novels is like admiring one of those delightful handmade, patchwork quilts. They are built of a wide variety of patterns and colours of cloth, some pieces garish some more subdued, some represented by single squares, others provide a repeated pattern that runs across the finished whole. Taken in isolation some pieces are very attractive in themselves, some would be hideous seen on their own; but, when taken as a completed and finished piece, it can ...more
Feb 26, 2016 F.R. rated it liked it
At the time of writing Dickens was convinced that Martin Chuzzlewit was his best book (amongst the lesser works which preceded it were such mediocre tomes as the Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby). Unfortunately the Victorian public did not agree with him, and its reputation as a minor work continues to this day.

Having re-read it now for the first time in fifteen years, I can see both why Dickens esteemed it so and why others regard it less fondly.

This is a novel which really
Jul 18, 2009 Rauf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: strictly for people who can't go on living without Charles Dickens
1. Dickens rambled and rambled for 35 pages before he finally introduced a character. Plus the book didn't get interesting until page 200 and something. But if you are reading this right now, try getting there. You'll find out that the novel you are currently holding in your hand is truly one of Dickens's finest. It's witty. It's sarcastic, it's ironic. It's sardonic. At times, Boz could be unmerciful, especially when he wrote about the Yanks.

2. Halfway through the book I said to myself, boy, al
Julie Davis
Jan 22, 2016 Julie Davis rated it really liked it
I didn't expect to like this book very much. It is almost unknown, it is an earlier book, and it has a section savagely satirizing Americans. I was, therefore, quite surprised to find myself really enjoying it and picking it up whenever possible, especially toward the end which had a lot of surprising twists. It really struck me as a bridging work between the "road trip" early novels where the protagonist doesn't change much and the later, greater works which are greatly satisfying as complete s ...more
Webster Bull
Mar 04, 2016 Webster Bull rated it really liked it
I had read all but four Dickens novels, ignoring this and three others as "secondary." But "Martin Chuzzlewit" impressed me far more than I expected. I give it four, not five stars only because there is certainly better Dickens—although middling Dickens is more worthwhile than almost-anyone-else.

I listened to the audio version narrated brilliantly by Sean Barrett, which, if you don't listen fast and all at once, which I did not, leads one to forget who certain characters are. But the major line
Sep 04, 2011 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any fan of Dickens'; anyone potentially a fan of Dickens'
Mr. Pecksniff's oily hypocrisy and self-serving behavior know no earthly bounds. Oh, but isn't he a joy to poke fun of. "Martin Chuzzlewit" is a darkly humoresque social commentary on the sort of contagious greed that always seems to surface in particular circumstances - in this case, the declining health of an elderly, and childless, wealthy relative. Who will get to inherit his fortune? Between the rather unsavory lot of family members, which include the aforementioned Pecksniff and his two un ...more
Ben Dutton
Feb 06, 2012 Ben Dutton rated it it was amazing
Martin Chuzzlewitt, Charles Dickens’ seventh novel, marks the turning point in this great novelist’s career. The last of his picaresque adventures, it slowly transforms itself into a grand narrative, with themes and motifs underscoring and accentuating Dickens’ prose. Dombey and Son, his next novel – like all those that come after it – is intricately plotted: it is the lessons learnt writing this work that pave the way.

Like Barnaby Rudge before it, Martin Chuzzlewitt is not about Martin Chuzzlew
Jun 03, 2015 K. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone. ought to be required.
Reread May 2015. Always in need of a little jollity from Mark Tapley, goodness from Thomas Pinch, and a little of the willingness to change for the better from the Martins, young and old.

Rereading December 2012. In need of some Mark Tapley-type inspiration.


Martin the Elder. I love you for your change of heart and the ability to still SEE despite your age and your proclivities.

Martin the Younger. I honor you also for being perceptive enough to SEE worth and CHANGE.

John Westlock. You are a
Sep 25, 2014 Peter rated it liked it
To me, this is the soft spot of Dickens's writing. It is sprawling, which is fine, but it is messy. It has some interesting characters, but too often they serve little purpose or function. The one character exception is Pecksniff who creates both humour and ire in the reader, but his presence becomes annoying and I did not beg Dickens for more. The American adventures of Martin junior and Mark Tapley were painful to read. When Dickens titles a book after a character such as David Copperfield or ...more
May 04, 2011 Sylvester rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book, classic
I love how Dickens gives us a protagonist who is clearly weak, or insipid, boring even, and then surrounds him with a sparkling cast of vile deceivers and eccentric charmers. To me, Tom Pinch is the sure-fire central character here, with Mark Tapley vying for attention - certainly one of Dicken's more delightful creations. Martin's character grows, but he is never the hero - and I get a kick out of that off-center way of telling a story. Wasn't so fond of the American parts, although I understa ...more
pierlapo  quimby
Jan 28, 2015 pierlapo quimby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglofoni, ottocento
Dopo avergliene dette peste e corna per un buon terzo del romanzo, nella postfazione che per sua espressa volontà deve suggellare ogni edizione del Chuzzlewit, il buon Charley cerca la tardiva riappacificazione con l'America e gli americani.
Ma non ci casca nessuno, vecchio marpione.
Dana Susan
Apr 12, 2010 Dana Susan rated it it was ok
Found this book annoying, all right already Mr Dickens, you are an amazing writer and observer of human nature, and funny, but this book left me cold, characters are good or evil, I didn't care about any of them. Maybe this is a lesser known Dickens novel for a good reason?!?
Jan 04, 2016 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comin' to America...

Old Martin Chuzzlewit's greedy relations have always assumed that his grandson and namesake will inherit the bulk of his wealth. But when young Martin falls in love without his grandfather's consent, the subsequent breach between them leaves the way open for all the rest to try to flatter, sneak or threaten their way into old Martin's good graces. Meantime young Martin must make his own way in the world, a hard lesson for a young man who has never given much thought for anyth
John Frankham
Aug 15, 2014 John Frankham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-pre-1900
I was expecting this to be weaker than the previous novels, apart from Barnaby Rudge, which I have been reading in order. Much to my surprise, I thought this was really first-rate. As with The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge, there is almost a separate movement in the middle - Little Nell's wanderings with her grandfather, the London riots, and here the American interlude. I thought this interlude was both interesting in itself, and the period in which our hero learnt to be a mensch, so ent ...more
Thom Swennes
Jul 17, 2012 Thom Swennes rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Whoever has ever read works of Charles Dickens could well imagine that his creative genius could never be fettered in Victorian England or even revolutionary France (Tale of Two Cities). In the monumental, yet (in my opinion) underrated and lesser known story of The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, his characters have spread their wings and traveled across the Atlantic to the bustling pre-Civil War United States. I found it not surprising but very refreshing to witness his obvious abhor ...more
Richard Kramer
Jun 22, 2012 Richard Kramer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Richard by: God
This book is supposedly the bridge into his Later, Great Ones, but how can anything be better than this? I came to it when I realized I didn't know what the meaning of Pecksniff was (one of the many Dickens character names that have have become adjectives; now THERE'S a writer's dream.) Hypocrite. Okay. Then read a piece by Dwight Garner about his his wife likes walking the dog while listening to recorded books
on her cellphone. Tried it, with MARTIN C. That didn't work too well, but the abridged
Mar 20, 2015 Tweety rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved some of the characters, others I hated.

One thing that stands out to me is that Dickens lets his characters grow. And he paints them in such a detailed way that I can completely see them. Their failings, virtues and idiosyncrasies.

My Favorite characters are Mercy, Chummy and Tom Pinch. I also like old Martin Chuzzlewit along with his granddaughter. (I think she was his granddaughter). I detested young Martin Chuzzlewit, he was so bitter! he
Oct 08, 2008 Jeanne rated it liked it
Shelves: dickens-2008
It's my tenth Dickens novel this year!

While Martin Chuzzlewit is perhaps not the most famous novel by Dickens, it possesses all of the qualities of a typical novel by him: it is very wordy, it contains so many characters (all of them colorful) that you may confuse some of them, it pits good vs. evil/poor vs. rich, and it has an extremely happy ending.

Basics: Martin Chuzzlewit is a rich old man who is suspicious of everyone's motives, particularly his family's motives. He trusts no one because h
Jun 11, 2008 booklady rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic, 2001
Although this story is technically flawed (most of the last 1/3 of it seems disjointed and isn't of the same quality as the rest of the novel) the good parts of it are still so humorous and enjoyable, I was happy to overlook the parts which weren't up to snuff. Again, if you listen to the book, you will really be able to pick up on Dickens' subtle sense of humor which comes out at some of his best in Martin Chuzzlewitt. His humor is always dry and sly and he slips something funny in when you lea ...more
Sep 13, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit lumbering and the denouement is hardly a surprise (or indeed as satisfying as it ought to be) but as readable as Dickens always is with his usual mix of OTT yet believable characters. In some ways it's quite a grim book, with vanity and selfishness descending into murder, ruin and despair. The lengthy section in which Mark and young Martin travel to the United States is a relentless and brutal satire on the mores and manners of Americans as Dickens perceived them - and he's damning. Not al ...more
Jan 19, 2013 Laura marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: all Dickens fans
To be read and discussed with The Readers Review: Literature from 1800 to 1910, see schedule below:

Week 1. 01/14 - 01/20 - Chapters 1-3
Week 2. 01/21 - 01/27 - Chapters 4-6
Week 3. 01/28 - 02/03 - Chapters 7-9
Week 4. 02/04 - 02/10 - Chapters 10-12
Week 5. 02/11 - 02/17 - Chapters 13-15
Week 6. 02/18 - 02/24 - Chapters 16-18
Week 7. 02/25 - 03/03 - Chapters 19-22
Week 8. 03/04 - 03/10 - Chapters 23-26
Week 9. 03/11 - 03/17 - Chapters 27-30
Week 10. 03/18 - 03/24 - Chapters 31-33
Week 11. 03/25 - 03/31 -
Rachel Murphy
Nov 03, 2008 Rachel Murphy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dickensiana
Ah, Dickens! This isn't up there with his best (A Tale of Two Cities, Our Mutual Friend, etc), but I almost couldn't bear giving it anything less than 5 stars b/c it has one of his loveliest characters in Tom Pinch, and of course who can't love Mark Tapley, one of a noble line of sturdy, jolly man-servants, right up there with Sam Weller and Sam Gamgee. A fun, lighthearted piece that I'll definitely go back to ~ although i'm sure Mark would agree that "there's no credit to being jolly" under any ...more
Mario Hinksman
Oct 24, 2014 Mario Hinksman rated it really liked it
This was the book that Dickens himself is said to have regarded as his best. However, it is certainly not his best known book although deserves to be recognised more than it is. It is often noted as being his "American book". While part of the book does cover the young MC's experiences in America, an account that is far from flattering, the majority of the book features London and Salisbury. For me, the book's most powerful character was Pecksniff, an odious and hypocritical widowed architect wi ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzelewit, Reflexions upon the Novel as a Whole 52 25 Apr 30, 2015 09:07AM  
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzlewit, Chapters 18 - 20 35 19 Apr 15, 2015 09:03AM  
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzlewit, Chapters 48 - 50 15 17 Sep 15, 2014 11:16AM  
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzlewit, Chapters 45 - 47 26 14 Sep 01, 2014 10:45AM  
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzlewit, Chapters 39 - 41 32 20 Aug 25, 2014 08:50AM  
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzlewit, Chapters 42 - 44 18 16 Aug 24, 2014 12:09PM  
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzlewit, Chapters 36 - 38 53 13 Aug 19, 2014 12:51PM  
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Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the twentieth century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and sho ...more
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“He would make a lovely corpse.” 53 likes
“[S]he stood for some moments gazing at the sisters, with affection beaming in one eye, and calculation shining out of the other.” 30 likes
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