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The Uncommercial Traveller

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  31 reviews
No landlord is my friend and brother, no chambermaid loves me, no waiter worships me, no boots admires and envies me. No round of beef or tongue or ham is expressly cooked for me, no pigeon-pie is especially made for me, no hotel-advertisement is personally addressed to me, no hotel-room tapestried with great-coats and railway wrappers is set apart for me, no house of publ ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by (first published 1869)
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3.51  · 
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 ·  278 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Katie Lumsden
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I don't think Dickens's non-fiction ages as well as his fiction. I enjoyed this, but a lot if it went over my head and wasn't completely engaging.
The 37 pieces in this book were written in the 1860s, published in a weekly magazine/journal that Dickens ran, and later collected and printed in book form. They range fairly widely in theme and tone, but as Daniel Tyler argues in his introduction to the edition I read, they can be seen to make up "a volume-length consideration of how far (and to whom) sympathy can be extended" (xix). (In one essay I liked a lot, Dickens visits a boat about to depart England with hundreds of emigrating Mormons o ...more
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful--and pertinent a century and a half later. Who knew the Victorians ate so well, even in an abandoned Inn (the Railroad had circumvented this old coach-house): "The stopperless cruets on the spindle-shanked sideboard were in a miserably dejected state: the anchovy sauce having turned blue some years ago, and the cayenne pepper (with a scoop in it like a small model of a wooden leg) having turned solid." Not politically correct, because of his use of the French "sauvage", still CD is hi ...more
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another grand work of Dickens's. This time a collection of separately published pieces formed as part of his own journal "All the Year Round". The character of the Uncommercial Traveller takes readers along a journey from Great Britain, through Europe and to America. As ever, the tone is delicately brightened by Dickens's humorous approach though there are some truly poignant moments when we are taken on a tour of the Workhouses, the docks of both Liverpool and London and those people struggling ...more
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A rather odd eclectic set of short stories based on a travellers experience. Based in Dickens' other novels, I expected a lot more from this. In many parts rather disjointed. Some works though, very vivid. His description of the Lead Mills, rather similar to stories by H G Wells, such as 'The Vone' and 'Lord of the Dynamo's'.

This would be a very good book as a way of introduction to themes, trends and ideas in his other major works such as Little Dorrit and Ncholas Nickelby. Very nice to hear f
Richard Clay
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A compilation of magazine articles from the last decade or so of Dickens' life. Some magnificent descriptions of the London of its day - in all its horror; there's no way the 1860s could ever be described as 'swinging.' Some of the material here is too much 'of its time' to be easily penetrable to any but the hardcore Victorian specialist but there's still plenty of interest. Okay, it's one to try if you've read MOST other Dickens, but it's still good.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Reprinted Pieces" was the better of two uninspiring volumes, because it included some fiction. The non-fiction was, for the most part, dull and/or overwrought.
Russell Bittner
For Dickens—the social engineer—perhaps no essay in this collection comes closer to illustrating his compassion for, and personal (because once lived) understanding of, the plight of the child-pauper than XXI “The Short Timers” (pp. 205-215). It’s a truth as timeless as any I know, and I heard a modern-day rendition of it just the other day from a woman who leads children’s tours in the Discovery Garden of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Those who start out with the least in life are generally the ...more
M. Walker
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Something of a slog. Journalism doesn't always age well, even when it's by one of the greats. Many of the stories in the Reprinted Pieces are a treat, though. If I really include the "date started" to "date finished" range I think it would be more than a decade.
Todd Stockslager
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Review Title: Fiction or journalism?

In the second half of his short brilliant career Dickens returned to the short sketch style that made his first fame in the literary world as "Boz". The 37 pieces here were written in three separate periods—1860, 1863, 1868/69—when his personal and professional life had radically changed, and when his pace of writing longer fiction serially had slowed down. The results are good, if uneven, but always recognizably Dickens.

By 1860 Dickens was separated from wife
Timothy Ferguson
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: librivox
This is a series of magazine articles, I assume, as they are short pieces and he specialized in that form. They purport to be his reminiscences on minor events he has seen while traveling, although their veracity is impossible to confirm. They tend toward his usual themes, poverty, the suffering of the hidden underclass, the way terrible things happen just out of sight in Victorian England.

I thought that to the Victorian English, rural life was something of an idyll, but Dickens seems to suggest
Dec 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aficionados of dense prose
Phew, what a slog: this is definitely some high-fiber prose.
This collection of Dickens' later magazine articles, as well as some reprinted earlier works which The Inimitable curated himself, tested my endurance. The pieces are all worthwhile, and many are brilliant: it's just that there are so damn many of them, and they are all so dense. In many of the riverside articles, and the stories set amongst the poor, one can discern the genesis of much of works such as Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Ha
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Clocking in at the end of Dickens' 24 major works, The Uncommercial Traveller is a series of his sketches, primarily non-fiction, that were published throughout the 1860s, the last decade of his life. It's quite fitting, given that Sketches by Boz was the work that first established his popularity, however whereas that one included more tales of sentimentalism or mystery, this is basically entirely sketches of life, and what it's like to live in England during this decade. I have to say, I find ...more
Ian Russell
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
A collection of articles, essays and reports, written in the later part of Dickens' life for a publication, a kind of serial magazine he had founded, form a kind of journal which now reads not unlike a blog.

These writings have no theme other than Dickens' observations on contemporary life. There are accounts of a shipwreck and local heroes; his night-walking cures for insomnia; visits to a London workhouse; an emigrant ship transporting Mormons to America; his dull town of birth; lawyers; tramp
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
At last at last! This was a bit of a slog, and I'm glad to be done. Warning to other readers - do not read Dickens' short stories and essays in compilation form. Choose one at a time, read and enjoy, maybe use them for study. But 700+ pages in a row....don't do it to yourself.
To be sure the stories and essays contained within the Uncommercial Traveller and Repriting Pieces are explorations of the Victorian World that can still be seen as relevant today, or provide insight into his novels. They
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: dickens
I know some will be appalled that I can give Dickens only 3 stars. I wanted to read these pieces as I believed them to be semi-autobiographical journalism. I was interested to read about workhouses, almshouses, the life of the 19th century London poor in general. All you have to do is Google up a couple of the places mentioned to find that they don't exist but that Dickens 'probably' based them on some other place. Journalism then becomes fiction because what do fiction writers often do but writ ...more
Lara Malik
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
No tengo palabras para explicar cuanto adoro la técnica narrativa de este autor.

Lo primero que deben saber al encarar este libro es que probablemente sea una lectura pesada, pero muy profunda. La forma de describir el ambiente y sus pensamientos es casi poetica, increíble es saber que realmente es una narración de un viaje realizado por él.

Si me preguntan, esta clase se escritura me recordo al existencialismo, ¿Por qué? Por su visión de la realidad en las calles de Londres, por sus detallistas
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, own, mexico
This was an easy book to put down again and again. I read it over a period of several weeks. Some articles deserved five stars, others far lower. I knew this before taking it up to read but it was the last of Dickens works I had to read in my set of 30 volumes. Of the 30 volumes, only 5 were given less than 5 stars. Pearl Buck claimed to have read every volume of this set every year of her adult life. OF course she made this claim in her later life when she wrote some of her worst books , so? I ...more
Jun 02, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a book that I bought twice--in paperback at The Brown Dog Bookstore in Hinesburg, VT but then lost on a Delta flight, and then from Amazon--where else. I had gotten a little farther than halfway through it, and was enjoying it more than other Dickens books. He has a subtle sense of humor, and visited interesting places where he either heard, or made up stories. This is not for the average reader, but then, probably none of us consider ourselves average.
Andrea Engle
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dickens, in his unique authorial voice, transports us to Victorian Britain, introducing us to the age of sail and the steam locomotive ... passionate in his defense of the poverty-stricken and his intolerance of the hypocritical, evocative in his memories of stagecoach England, ghoulish in his description of a Paris morgue, he weaves his magic in a series of thirty-seven essays ... a must-read for the student of the Victorian era ...
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan by: same volume as Old Curiosity Shop
If anyone has notions of a romantic Victorian England this factual & non-fiction book will put you wise to the terrible conditions & poverty a large number (especially in towns/cities)of the population were forced to live in with next to no help exact from a small minority of the better off.
A queen who allowed her subjects to live in such dire straits should never have been queen.
It took me a while to read it because of the depressive state the book related.
Julie Unruh
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have finished the book, and the last paragraph was about Charles Dickens, going to a poor apartment building and offering all these couples money who did not have food to eat. The last thing he did was go to a Children's hospital and give them money to take better care of the kids. I didn't read it fast because I had to look up all the words and read and understand old English writing. But, it is a good book and would recommend it to people.
Ralph Britton
I think this collection of his journalism is less read now than Dickens's novels, but that's a pity as it shows his talents just as clearly. The essays are a mixture of humour and hard-hitting journalism on the social evils that Dickens tried so hard to eradicate. It is mixed in quality but contains some of his best writing. Sketches by Boz is perhaps more startlingly brilliant but The Uncommercial Traveller is more mature and considered.
Mark Kaplan
Jul 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Snapshots of various places. Excellent characters, naturally, but it didn't work for me, predominantly because the story is so episodic. It's much like a travelogue, but one that is focused on a realistic depiction of people and places met. Interesting, but not captivating. Unlike his other works, I found this book easy to put down.
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a bit boring and I skipped around in reading it. He does mention observing the Mormons traveling to America on the boat "The Amazon," and is amaized at their good natures and pleasant additudes...once again, my neighbor (who grew up in England) wanted me to read it.
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of "literary sketches and reminiscences" is now in the public domain. A free electronic copy can be found here.
Jun 26, 2007 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers
dickens nonfiction generally outshines his fiction. great for those who don't think they like Dickens.
Dickens, Charles
A Tale of Two Cities; The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices; The Uncommercial Traveller; No Thoroughfare

In compilation only.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eventually
Less essays, more magazine articles from the nineteenth century--nice but not life-changing
Fazackerly Toast
rated it liked it
Oct 25, 2015
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Charles John Huffam Dickens was a writer and social critic who 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 short stories enjoy lasting popularity.

“can see back to very early days indeed, when my bad dreams—they were frightful, though my more mature understanding has never made out why—were of an interminable sort of ropemaking, with long minute filaments for strands, which, when they were spun home together close to my eyes, occasioned screaming. ” 1 likes
“And this reminds me of my own village church where, during sermon-time on bright Sundays when the birds are very musical indeed, farmers’ boys patter out over the stone pavement, and the clerk steps out from his desk after them, and is distinctly heard in the summer repose to pursue and punch them in the churchyard, and is seen to return with a meditative countenance, making believe that nothing of the sort has happened. ” 1 likes
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