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Martin Chuzzlewit

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  10,541 ratings  ·  313 reviews
Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4) is Charles Dicken's comic masterpiece—an opinion shared by Dicken himself who, when he began the novel 'never had so much confidence in his powers', and when he had finished it was convinced it was 'in a hundred points immeasurably the best of my stories'. A study in selfishness and hypocrisy, the plot of Martin Chuzzlewit moves from the sunniest ...more
Paperback, Penguin English Library, 942 pages
Published 1968 by Penguin (first published 1844)
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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
Brian Robbins
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
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
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
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Sep 04, 2011 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Bryant
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
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
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
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.
John Frankham
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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 -
The story: This is of the Chuzzlewit family and is a study of hypocrisy and selfishness and this book is a study of character. Some might say exaggerated but they do represent people in society. The Peckniffs and Sarah Gamp, the Jonas and the Martins Chuzzlewits. The book is called the last of Dickens picaresque novels. Another unique element is the American portion of the story which is a caricature of America. Dickens had just returned from a tour to the US and from this book, he was not impre ...more
Dana Susan
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?!?
Mario Hinksman
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
Laurel Hicks
Dickens's sixth novel gets off to a lumbering start, stalls in the middle, but ends in a flurry of excitement reminiscent of Shakespeare (Macbeth), Poe, and Doyle all tied into one. Tom Pinch and Mark Tapley are keepers.

Martin Chuzzlewit was Charles Dickens’ sixth novel and was published monthly from January 1843 until July 1844. Martin Chuzzlewit follows on from Barnaby Rudge, Dickens’ least commercially successful work, and the much criticized Nicholas Nickleby. Perhaps following the lack of great success of his previous two books, Martin Chuzzlewit was also not particularly well received and remains one of his lesser known stories.

Dickens wrote Martin Chuzzlewit on his return from the Americas which provided
I have FINALLY finished! I'm honestly not sure I even want to bother writing a book review, as I don't really want to spend another minute on this book. But ...

First, I have to mention that everyone else at book club gave up on this. We couldn't even watch the miniseries! I think we watched about 20 minutes of it, and never could start it up again. We joked that we had proof no one else had read it either -- there are no Spark OR Cliff notes available on this book!

That said, I have to say that p
If you are not already a strong Dickens fan or into a lot of social satire, don't read this novel. Start with David Copperfield or Great Expectations. The basic story in this novel is very good and would make a very good movie on BBC. Dickens just gets too wordy. It takes almost three pages to describe objects seen from a coach. The descriptions are poetic, and the philosophical paragraphs are thought provoking, but there are just too many of them. Unless you are very talented at skimming, you w ...more
Why is it that villains are often the most delicious dishes of fictional feasts? If the protagonist is the main course, the antagonist is almost like dessert, to be sinfully savored but, really, more like the post prandial drink and smoke, to be enjoyed outside, in the dark, when the other guests can't see or hear your naughty habits. The title of Dickens' seventh novel, written between the more familiar works, The Old Curiousity Shop and David Copperfield, might lead readers to think this tale ...more
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The Pickwick Club: Chuzzelewit, Reflexions upon the Novel as a Whole 52 23 Apr 30, 2015 09:07AM  
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzlewit, Chapters 18 - 20 35 18 Apr 15, 2015 09:03AM  
The Pickwick Club: Chuzzlewit, Chapters 48 - 50 15 15 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 19 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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A prolific 19th Century author of short stories, plays, novellas, novels, fiction and non-fiction; during his lifetime Dickens became known the world over for his remarkable characters, his mastery of prose in the telling of their lives, and his depictions of the social classes, morals and values of his times. Some considered him the spokesman for the poor, for he definitely brought much awarenes ...more
More about Charles Dickens...
A Tale of Two Cities Great Expectations A Christmas Carol Oliver Twist David Copperfield

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