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American Notes

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  548 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
So wrote an exuberant Dickens shortly before his voyage to America in 1842. He was the most famous of many travellers of his time who journeyed to the New World, curious to find out about the revolutionary new civilization which had captured the English imagination. His frank, often humorous descriptions cover everything from his comically uncomfortable sea voyage to his w ...more
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Published January 1st 2010 by MobileReference (first published 1842)
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Aug 20, 2015 Manray9 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brit-lit
Charles Dickens' American Notes for General Circulation, a travelogue of his trip around the U.S. and Canada from January through June 1842, was not well-received in the United States when first published. His views of America and Americans were generally not unfair -- in fact, many of his observations were right on target. Dickens did not neglect the many positive aspects of American life and society, but Americans of his day, by British standards, were coarse, dirty, ill-mannered, too familiar ...more
Andrei Tamaş
Oct 07, 2015 Andrei Tamaş rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
O perspectivă critică a lui Dickens asupra vieții americanilor din secolul al XIX. În călătoria sa prin mai multe orașe americane prezintă, ca într-un jurnal, frumusețea locurilor, dar aruncă o lumină nu tocmai favorabilă asupra politicii americane (fapt cu ajutorul căruia volumul a fost publicat în comunism, trecând cu brio de cenzura acestuia).
Oct 02, 2016 Leggendolibri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Devo ammettere che non sapevo quanto fosse divertente Dickens quando scriveva dei suoi viaggi. In questo fatto in America è anche straordinariamente incisivo e diretto. Libro adorato e introduzione puntuale e interessante. Imperdibile!
Genia Lukin
Aug 20, 2014 Genia Lukin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Dickens, in my opinion, is a severely overrated, rather self-important and self-righteous bore. So I don't like most of this books.

This time, though, while he's still a self-important and self-righteous bore whose sense of humour essentially is based entirely on the assumption that the rest of the world is stupid (which, admittedly, is a fair assumption to make), he actually manages to turn these traits to his advantage. It's not very nice being all the aforementioned while writing ficti
JS Found
Mar 14, 2013 JS Found rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a universal truth that the more things change, the more they stay the same.( It is also a universal truth that we speak and write in cliches.) The traveler's view of America, written in 1842 has many uncomfortable truths to say to us in the America of 2013. That this traveler was Charles Dickens, already a critic of his country's poverty laws, government institutions, and the darker aspects of its culture, means that the US was about to face a reckoning--a literary one eighteen years befor ...more
Elena Santangelo
Sep 03, 2011 Elena Santangelo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs, fans of Dickens, Writers
I'm going to start by saying I don't recommend this book for anyone who has to read is for a school course. Books like this should never be read under duress. Also, if you read this book, I recommend saving the introductory matter for last and beginning with Dickens' narrative.

Although he was a bestselling and well-known author at the time of his trip to America, Dickens had only published a handful of works and was only 29 at the time he embarked. He'd just lost his job as a journalist in 1839,
In this book, we see nineteenth-century Washington congressmen hocking tobacco-juice loogies all over the Congressional carpets. This book is awesome.

American Notes for General Circulation is a portrait of 1842 America and Americans unlike any I’d ever encountered. Probably because, as it turns out, Americans liked Dickens's social commentary about stuff like Oliver Twist not getting a little more, but didn’t so much want to hear critiques about themselves. Typical. And so the book hasn’t come d
Sep 16, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Curious folk
Recommended to Katie by: It was at the end of Oliver Twist
Amazing, and screamingly funny sometimes, especially the part about hogs touring Broadway, and tobacco chewing in Washington, D.C. Very touching, too. His portrait of the enlightened Perkins Institute for the Blind is fascinating, especially the part about Laura Bridgman, one of the first deaf-blind students, who was about 13 at the time he visited. He contrasts this with the institutions for paupers in New York, which were at least as squalid and cruel as those in England. His exposure of the i ...more
David Rackowitz
Sep 20, 2011 David Rackowitz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs
Recommended to David by: Kindle search
A really interesting book written by Charles Dickens about his visit to the U.S. in the late 1840's early 1850's. An outsider's view of the good and the bad about the U.S. a few years before the beginning of the Great Civil War. Many surprising facts. Dickens had especially strong views about slavery in America.
Ray Campbell
Dec 05, 2014 Ray Campbell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
This is a travelogue recorded on a trip Dickens took to the United States. Interestingly, after a lighthearted and exaggerated story of the adventure of crossing, the visit focuses on hospitals, homes for deaf, blind and finally, prisons. This seemed like he was traveling as a journalist writing for serialized publication - which he may have been. Never the less, he describes where he stays and the people he meets which is delightful. The last quarter of the book is less focused as he travels we ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Chana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The famous quarrel between Charles Dickens and America. Can't say he didn't take on a worthy opponent...I mean, a whole country? Dickens, as usual, is larger than the life he portrays.

Though Dickens primarily made his views known through works of fiction, and many of his arguments with America were laid out similarly in Martin Chuzzlewit, it seems he couldn't keep from expounding upon those ideas in a full-blown work. As a whole, Dickens admires America and knows that America's brand of democrac
John Harder
Oct 19, 2012 John Harder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In American Notes for General Circulation, Charles Dickens travels the northeastern seaboard, the Midwest and Canada. Dickens was interested in American institutions and apparently the most interesting item a city might possess is a prison and an insane asylum. I am not sure why this would be the case. Perhaps since America was still young and our cultural development was still in its infancy the most notable public building housed the criminal and crazy.

Dickens seems impressed with the decently
Oct 07, 2013 Jayson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and was quite taken by the fact that Charles Dickens traveled through the United States of the early 1840s. It provided an interesting picture of our country during this period and his commentary was engaging. I cannot deny I have had a certain affection for Dickens ever since my first encounter with his writings in high school, but also after seeing a myriad of adaptations of his work for television and film. It is also important to note his impact upon the Victorian ...more
Notable mostly for its insightful discussion of the torture inherent in solitary confinement. (Dickens visited numerous prisons and asylums, presumably as part of the purpose of the voyage.) Uneven in the quality of its descriptive passages, some small number of which sing with wit and vivid depiction but others of which drag. The description of the workings of Washington, D.C. is not to be missed, particularly by those patriots who tend to forget that the country was forged by tobacco-chewing k ...more
Jul 06, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After enjoying the scrumptious meal of a Dickens novel, I rise from the table sighing with content, full to the brim and happy. However, I go on to other things and seem to forget in the meantime, how wonderful that meal was.

So it is with American Notes. I had forgotten how superb Dickens' writing is, how lush the prose, how subtle the hints, how witty the criticisms. Now I remember.

In 1842 Dickens spent 6 months touring the United States. This was not a reading tour, just a visit to see the cou
Mike Wood
Gives a good feel of what travel around America was like at the time, so there are great passages with Dickensian descriptions of America that are priceless.

On slavery, he found it so disturbing an institution that he changed his travel plans after spending a few days in the South. His very interesting observation was that, at that time, in that place, even if you found slavery despicable, there was no practical way to avoid it as you were served by slaves when entering restaurants, hotels, whi
Craig Kapitan
This months-long travelogue wasn't initially intended for an American audience, but the America of 170 years ago was so vastly different than what it is today that it doesn't at all feel as redundant as reading a Lonely Planet or Frommer's guide for your own hometown. There are some genuinely interesting parts to this book--such as the description of a pre-Mall Washington, D.C., as it was still being built. And some borderline hilarious moments as well, such as his disgust with the amount of tob ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has some consistency problems but the observations are still very relevant. Dickens worried about American violence, distrust of politicians, uncivil political discourse, boom and bust financial schemes, devotion to money making over ethics... Sound familiar? which is both depressing and as well as comforting. We've been slogging along with these boat anchors around our neck for a long time and we still seem to make substantial forward progress. His observation of small details is delightful. ...more
Jan 02, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, memoir
Get this as an ebook so you can search for what interests you most--Dickens's descriptions of Congress? Niagara Falls? Prisons? Institutes for the blind? Trains? Ferries? New York? Columbus? The Mississippi? Slavery? The Shakers? I did read it cover to cover as I slowly make my way through all of Dickens's works but it struck me that everyone might benefit from a dose of seeing how something they are familiar with was described 160 years ago by a celebrity of the times who made it his business t ...more
Dave Turner
I'm not a fan of adventure diaries (be they travel or otherwise) but as this author is guilty of being a genius I can take two incredible memories away from this. The first being the amazing and inspiring true story of Laura Bridgeman (who was the first deaf, dumb and blind American). The second is the horrific insight in to the dark world of slavery (which is discribed in all it's awful detail)

Dickens is not afraid of offending any one by the writing of this travel diary, nor does he find any r
This is a travelogue documenting Dickens' experiences in America. I can see why this book lost him some friends. He is pretty brutal in his criticism of American customs, manners and ambitions. I do have to say, though, that there are parts of the book that I found extremely amusing- laugh-out-loud funny. So I enjoyed it. I think any fan of Dickens would enjoy this book, although I wouldn't read this first before his other, more famous novels, because part of the charm is recognizing his tradema ...more
May 28, 2016 Juan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es bonito cómo describe Dickens los Estados Unidos, y algo de Canadá, a partir de referencias europeas. Logra un retrato de América haciendo un colash de paisajes ingleses y franceses, en su mayoría. Este es un método imprescindible en el libro de viajes. Dickens logra mostrarse como el forastero más bellamente desautomatizado ante lo nuevo y a partir de esta condición, más el método de usar lo conocido, logra un fino retrato de Nueva Inglaterra.
Feb 12, 2014 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because Dickens refers to St. Louis and Belleville and Lebanon, IL, all places I know. His view of us, even in 1850, probably still has much truth to it. I was particularly interested in his comments about slavery and his decision not to travel South so he would not encounter it.
Dickens' travelogue based on his 1842 trip through Canada and the northeastern United States. Interesting for his semi-comical presentation of the quite disagreeable crossing, during which everyone was violently seasick, his aggrieved analysis of the penal systems in place in large American cities, his fervent distaste for the American custom of spitting - often with the spew of viscous tobacco juice - in virtually all public places, the penchant of Americans to refer to another of their nationa ...more
Dec 13, 2016 Sabrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charles siempre ha hecho de la vida un teatro del absurdo, porque el ser humano lo es, somos.
Siempre estaré en deuda con Dickens por enseñarme la vida
Dec 03, 2016 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as Twain's travel books but still very interesting.
Michael Huang
Oct 08, 2016 Michael Huang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's one odd trip that Dickens made: one of the first stops is a school for the blind, deaf, and dumb. (Clearly, he was on a fact-finding mission for the book). But it's interesting to see the contrast.
The journey across the Atlantic in a ship is just unimaginable: never mind the length, what keeps you from lying on the bottom of the ocean is just two pairs of eyes watching out for icebergs -- day or night. On the other hand, some things do not change. He talked about boarding a ship from Montr
Oct 02, 2015 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, victorian
No obvious beginning comes to mind, so I’ll start with me laughing out loud. I’m always tempted, in reading anything by Dickens, to start a list of quotes, but it’s becoming equally irresistible to compile the truly cathartic moments. There were passages in American Notes that set me laughing and kept me going. Here’s one in reference to sleeping arrangements on a canal-boat:

“I found it [the bunk], on after-measurement, just the width of an ordinary sheet of Bath post letter-paper; and I was at
Todd Stockslager
Jun 02, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-geography
Review title: Dickens road trip gone wrong
In the introduction he wrote but wasn't included in the original edition of the journal of his first American visit, Dickens admits to being disappointed by the country and people he saw there. As one of his biggest fans reading this after all of his other fiction, I confess that that is exactly my reaction to his American Notes-disappointment.

Dickens, still a young writer in 1842 at the time of his first visit, was already a literary star worthy of the
Patti Smith
Oct 02, 2016 Patti Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a bit disconcerting to see that much of what Dickens observed then is still true today.
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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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