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Martin Chuzzlewit

(Martin Chuzzlewit #14)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  15,090 ratings  ·  685 reviews
While writing Martin Chuzzlewit - his sixth novel - Dickens declared it 'immeasurably the best of my stories.' He was already famous as the author of The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.

Set partly in America, which Dickens had visited in 1842, the novel includes a searing satire on the United States. Martin Chuzzlewit is the story of two Chuzzlewits, Martin and Jonas, wh
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)
Pinko Palest it might have been more proper to call the book Mrs Gamp, even though she doesn't even appear until the second half. Or even Seth Pecksniff. But then,…moreit might have been more proper to call the book Mrs Gamp, even though she doesn't even appear until the second half. Or even Seth Pecksniff. But then, there are not one but two Martin Chuzzlewits, plus Martin the younger gets to go to America, and since his experiences there are so momentously funny, it's not such a bad choice after all. Yes, Tom is very important, and we see a great part of the story through his eyes, but wouldn't it be a bit like Bleak House being called Esther Summerson?(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Letter from the ‘umble Reader to the ‘onourable Master Dickens!

Part One, - which expresses slight confusion regarding the title of this chef d’oeuvre, Martin Chuzzlewit!

My dear Dickens! Despite the fact that there is not just one, but two important main characters called Martin Chuzzlewit, it seems to me that they are not deserving of the title, all things considered. The editors obviously knew that when they printed the Wordsworth Classics edition, as they put a portrait of the infamous Mr Pe
Bionic Jean
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
Sean Barrs
Martin Chuzzlewit is an extremely long book even by the standards of Charles Dickens.

And that’s the problem: there is simply too much story. When Dickens tries to wrap everything in a neat little parcel at the end (as he always would) it really suffers as a result. It all gets forced into this tight conclusion that felt like a huge stretch of writing and imagination.

I’ve been doing some research on this book, and it turns out that Dickens was getting paid by the word rather than for the quality
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
Tristram Shandy
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
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 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
Dec 20, 2009 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
Xan Shadowflutter
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020_reads
I enjoyed this, all the characters tripping over one another in London. It's Dickens being Dickens, creating wonderful characters who go through life entertaining readers. But there is something readers need to know. This is not a novel. Dickens fools us into thinking there is a plot when there isn't one. There are just characters running around London entertaining us until Dickens tires of them or runs out of words. Read it for what it is, and not for what it isn't. ...more
Brian Robbins
Jun 15, 2012 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
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Martin Chuzzlewit' (serialized 1842-1844) by Charles Dickens is considered by some as one of Dicken's finest comic fiction novels that focused on various social portraits of selfishness - generational pride, the suck-ups and kiss-asses, the paranoid and the criminal. I don't agree that this novel is a great one. However, it certainly is fun to read - as long as one does not mind 1,000 pages of 19th-century domestic farce revolving around characters in two London families and their servants. The ...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 first time I ever heard of this book was in The Man Who Invented Christmas, when Dan Stevens, playing Dickens, says he knows that Martin Chuzzlewit hadn't been his best.

Which is a blatant lie. In my opinion this was the best of his books so far. And according to the preface, he thought so, too. Full of distinctive characters (Mark Tapley! Mrs Gamp! Mister Pecksniff! Mrs Gamp's imaginary friend Mrs Harris!), this is the story of not just Martin, but everyone around him, their struggles, succe
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it took me over seven months, but I'm finally done with you, Martin.
Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors. I've read and loved many of his novels, most recently A Tale of Two Cities. For me, then, a "bad" Dickens novel is still a good book. My two biggest problems with this one in particular are the length and the abundance of deplorable characters. David Copperfield and Little Dorrit are both 1,000-page novels, yet neither of them felt it to me. This book felt every one of its ei
Ben Dutton
Feb 06, 2012 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
Rachel Murphy
Nov 03, 2008 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
I think I was about two-thirds of the way into this book before it really became interesting. There were lots of characters and false starts towards a plot. Normally Dickens is a bit of a genius at pulling together disparate characters and plots but Martin Chuzzlewit was just to long and rambling. I am still trying to figure out what the point was of sending Martin Jr. off to America.
That said, there were a couple characters that I really came to love and are now two of my favorite of Dickens c
Linda Dobinson
Jun 27, 2016 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
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
A very good book. Full of the typical cast of disreputable rogues and lovable good-hearted people engaged in all kinds of schemes. This book is a one-of-a-kind Dickens novel in that the main character does a turn in the United States of America for a time (with disastrous results). This visit apparently reflects some of the biases that Dickens developed during his original visit to America. There are some of Dickens' 'Saints' in here too; including Mark Tapley and Tom Pinch. It is said that Dick ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
Dicken's 6th novel, one that he liked and was peeved when the original serial didn't sell as well as his previous works. The life, times and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is a bit of a strange read, set in, and heavily satirising America and dabbling with a rather insipid romance - on the other hand Dickens goes all out with his comedic scene setting and dialogue which reaches it peak with the Pecksniff's London adventure. Considered one of his seminal works by some critics and definitely a mu ...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. ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
So again I’ve completed another of Charles Dickens’s less popular novels. I have yet to read some of his more famous books such as David Copperfield or Great Expectations because I’m trying to read them in the order they were written so I can get a sense of Dickens’s growth as a writer. I started out wrong, I know, reading Smike Nicholas Nickleby first. After that, I decided to read in order. I tried and failed to read the Pickwick Papers. After that I read Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop a ...more
Apr 29, 2009 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
Dec 17, 2015 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
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglophilia
Not one of Dickens' more well known, nor one of his best, "Martin Chuzzlewit" begins in a deceptively lighthearted, humorous manner. That may have been the author's intention.

This book is a tale of deception, dishonesty, duplicity, murder and greed. From one chapter to the next the reader has difficulty telling the saints from the sinners, and with good reason. This is not "A Christmas Carol." The characters in this story are complicated and multi-layered.
If you are working your way through th
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book even more than I expected to. :-D
Aug 27, 2013 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
What a marathon! I have just finished listening to this as an Audible book, read by Frederick Davidson, who does a superb job. It clocks in at over 35 hours of listening, and I have to say that I thought there was a fair amount of padding in there. Not surprising given that Dickens was writing it as a serial and was no doubt paid by the yard.

There were some great descriptions of the countryside gradually becoming the city as one of the characters rode in a coach towards London, and another of a
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

"In every single circumstance, whether it were cruel, cowardly, or false, he saw the flowering of the same pregnant seed. Self; grasping, eager, narrow–ranging, overreaching self; with its long train of suspicions, lusts, deceits, and all their growing consequences; was the root of the vile tree."

Here we have the central theme of Martin Chuzzlewit, which is not really about Martin Chuzzlewit (there are in fact two Martin Chuzzlewits in the novel). There are many characters and none of t
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it

This book took me forever to read. I alternated between the print and audio versions for the entire year. I'm not sure why it took me so long, but at times I got very confused because there is more than one character named Martin Chuzzlewit and I would have to slow down and re-read/back up the audio. I did like that large portions of this book takes place in America. It's also quite funny, particularly the parts with Mr Pecksniff. I'm one book closer to my goal of reading all of Dickens, howe
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Reading 1001: Martin Chuzzlewit - Dickens 2 11 Mar 21, 2021 06:18PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please add this book cover 2 7 Sep 23, 2020 03:15AM  
The Old Curiosity...: MC, Chp. 42-44 48 12 Feb 09, 2020 06:02AM  
The Old Curiosity...: MC, Chp. 33-35 53 10 Jan 28, 2020 12:40AM  
The Old Curiosity...: MC, Chp. 21-23 46 11 Dec 11, 2019 04:05PM  
The Old Curiosity...: MC, Chp. 06-08 53 13 Oct 29, 2019 04:27AM  
The Old Curiosity...: Reading Schedule, and Preliminary Remarks 14 30 Sep 29, 2019 03:32AM  

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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.


Other books in the series

Martin Chuzzlewit (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • No. I (Martin Chuzzlewit, #1)
  • No. II (Martin Chuzzlewit, #2)
  • No. III (Martin Chuzzlewit, #3)
  • No. IV (Martin Chuzzlewit, #4)
  • No. V (Martin Chuzzlewit, #5)
  • No. VI (Martin Chuzzlewit, #6)
  • No. VII (Martin Chuzzlewit, #7)
  • No. VIII (Martin Chuzzlewit, #8)
  • No. IX (Martin Chuzzlewit, #9)
  • No. X (Martin Chuzzlewit, #10)

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