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Martin Chuzzlewit (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Dickens
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jun 1994 Wordsworth Classics

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction and Notes by Dr John Bowen, Department of English, University of Keele.

Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz).

Martin Chuzzlewit is Charles Dickens' comic masterpiece about which his biographer, Forster, noted that it marked a crucial phase in the author's development as he began to delve deeper into the 'springs of character'.

Old Martin Chuzzlewit, tormented by the greed and selfishness of his family, effectively drives his grandson, young Martin, to undertake a voyage to America. It is a voyage which will have crucial consequences not only for young Martin, but also for his grandfather and his grandfather's servant, Mary Graham with whom young Martin is in love.

The commercial swindle of the Anglo-Bengalee company and the fraudulent Eden Land Corporation have a topicality in our own time. This strong sub-plot shows evidence of Dickens' mastery of crime where characters such as the criminal Jonas Chuzzlewit, the old nurse Mrs Gamp, and the arch-hypocrite Seth Pecksniff are the equal to any in his other great novels. Generations of readers have also delighted in Dickens' wonderful description of the London boarding-house - 'Todgers'.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1 Jun 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262050
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A novel that British readers love, and American readers love to hate...the American scenes are among the most powerful things Dickens ever did in fiction" (Guardian)

"Peckniff, the arch villain of Martin Chuzzlewit, is in some ways the archetypal hypocrite and yet he's constantly surprising you...vivid detail" (David Lodge Time Out)

"One of my favourite characters in English literature is the redoubtable Mark Tapley - a curious hybrid of Jeeves and Pollyanna who inhabits the pages of Dickens's great novel, Martin Chuzzlewit." (Michael Simkins Daily Telegraph)

"Like all Dickens' novels it manages to combine social justice with humour" (Author Nicholas Rhea)

"After leaving school, I sought refuge from the perils of office life by reading under my desk or on park benches during the lunch hour. Dickens was my preferred means of escape" (Jeremy Lewis Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Martin Chuzzlewit is a comic masterpiece which courted controversy on publication with its scathing portrayal of nineteenth-century America --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Dickens Comic Masterpiece 31 May 2000
By A Customer
Martin Chuzzlewit is a gigantic sprawling Victorian novel about relationships. In typical Dickensian fashion it is both serious and comic as it deals with various relationships between family members (in particular Martin Chuzzlewit senior and his grandson, Martin junior), friends, acquaintances and enemies. There are a great many brilliant characters in this novel, though I would especially single out Seth Pecksniff, the worst, the most hypocritical and vile villain imaginable, and Tom Pinch, a better man and friend than anyone could ever ask to meet.
Although the plot does tend to ramble at times, in the last quarter of the novel where the focus switches to the actions of Jonas Chuzzlewit, it moves along at a fair old clip.
This might not be Dickens' greatest novel (I would place at least four or five of the others before it) but it is, nonetheless, a minor comic masterpiece that has a great deal of wisdom and sheer pleasure to offer any reader. And oh! what characters you're guaranteed to meet on the way!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dickens on top form. 25 Oct 2003
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Dickens included experiences of his recent first tour of America in this novel, poking generous fun at the pretensions of the "U-nited States", whilst making equal mischief with his English characters too.
It's already been said how rambling this novel can be, but in many ways Dickens wrote it as ideas came into his head with only a mild inkling as to how it would all end. And although his characters tend to be wholly righteous or wholly evil, this does at least allow for excellent comedy, for it is by emphasising the extreme aspects of character at the expense of a more well-rounded disposition that we can laugh at some aspects of ourselves.
A good read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Martin Chuzzlewit 10 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was the third Dickens book I've read over the last few months. Having not read any Dickens since my schooldays (and then only A Christmas Carol)I have been astonished at the wit, irony and humour which are contained in even the darkest passages of all the books I've read so far. I expected to find them hard going and a bit longwinded but nothing could be further from the truth. The narrative moves at pace and the plots are imaginative and gripping. I wish I'd started reading Dickens years ago and now intend to continue to do so. I've now read Hard Times, The Old Curiosity Shop, Martin Chuzzlewit and Great Expectations. Dickens descriptions of characters are sometimes 'laugh-out-loud' amusing. Not at all what I expected from a mid-nineteenth author. In addition many topics, eg pollution, were as relevant then as they are today. A total joy all round.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Martin Chuzzlewit is a funny, memorable, and insightful book. The engravings in the Oxford Illustrated edition are a charming addition to this story of hypocrisy, family intrigue, selfishness, loyalty, and friendship. Dickens's use of language is precise and often stinging. The book is laced with humor in the service of more profound goals. If you buy the Oxford Illustrated edition, skip the critical essay at the start of the volume, as it gives away some plot elements best left for the reader to discover. (Read the essay AFTER you have finished the book, if you like, or just ignore it.) My 9 rating reflects the combination of humor, satire, memorable characters (most especially the resolutely jolly Mark Tapley and the hypocritical Mr. Pecksniff), and a thoroughly entertaining plot.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second only to Tale of Two Cities 26 Jan 2007
Dickens is unquestionably one of the best writers in the history of English literature, combining compelling plots with laugh-out-loud humour and a savage satirical eye. Having read most of his books, I have to say Martin Chuzzlewit is one of the best - second only, in fact, to the awesome Tale of Two Cities.

This is despite the book having possibly the worst beginning of the lot - if you can get past the initial 8 pages, where not one character appears, you'll find several dozen well worth the wait. This includes the usual memorable characters - drunken Mrs Gamp and her imaginary friend; the older-than-his-years Mr Bailey; and Mark Tapley, who finds no credit in being happy unless he is surrounded by the most miserable of circumstances; not to mention Pecksniff, Charity and Mercy.

But what is most notable in the book is its picture of a self-mythologising America, a country where "they're so fond of Liberty that they buy her and sell her and carry her to market with 'em. They've such a passion for Liberty, that they can't help taking liberties with her," a country which holds itself up as an example to the rest of the world, and where any criticism of an individual American is held to be a criticism of its "institutions" and defended as such. It's a picture that has many echoes more than 150 years on, perhaps demonstrating how long the legend of 'America' has been in development.

The story is about greed, and the plot is comedy. The observation is sharp as ever, focusing on hypocrisy, selfishness, and including a fascinating portrait of guilt. It's one of the best books ever, hilarious at points, and wickedly true. Just read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Martin Chuzzlewit 23 Mar 2011
I was made to read Pickwick papers by Dickens at school. I could not understand it. Now, at 74, I have read all of his books; slowly a second time to climb into the story: especially the descriptive pieces. I was not bored by any of them.
An amazing writer, full of understanding of the times and all of the people.
He delves into their lives giving you a picture of life in the different classes of people, from the poorest: to the very rich.
I now write books my self, the New Dickens, Lawrence and Hardy, etc, all read my work now. They will review it when I catch them up.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Martin Chuzzlewit
Fine for the price I paid, but wish I had decided on a better edition which contained helpful notes. Example' Penguin'.
Published 2 months ago by Janet Perkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone. Dickens takes his time to make a point and you need...
This is a wonderful book for the right reader at the right time. Full of subtle distinctions of motive and character and contains devastating accounts of New yorkers which rings a... Read more
Published 2 months ago by NSR
5.0 out of 5 stars Dickens at his verbose best!
Wow a slow starter but once it does begin to roll is unstoppable. I do not like reviews that tell one how many words are required!!!!!!
Published 2 months ago by Mr. D. Hoyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Some mad Dickens people with mad names
Chuzzlewit ? Is that or was that ever a real surname ? That would be so good if it was ! Did Dickens spend half his time when writing his mighty works of fiction thinking up odd... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr Malcolm coghill
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Dickens
The hero is of course not either of the Martin Chuzzlewit's but Tom Pinch

Pecksniff a great character, Jonas C'wit a great villian

I love Mark Tapley too... Read more
Published 3 months ago by MR KEVIN MULVENNA
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 out of 10
Wonderful, wonderful book.
A classic in its own right.
loved this book as the two comments above have stated, just writing this to please Amazon !!!!!!.
Published 3 months ago by Mr. D. Timms
4.0 out of 5 stars Under-rated Classic
This must be, arguably, one of Dickens' premier works. For amusement, it compares favourably with 'Pickwick Papers'. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Waldi
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best but readable.
Enjoyed the story but felt There was too much rambling on instead of getting on with it.
I'll read more Dickens.
Published 4 months ago by Geoff
3.0 out of 5 stars First Dickens I've read for about 40 years
I just can't believe that anyone actually spoke the way Dickens' characters in this novel spoke, not even 150 years ago. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Alan Rhys-Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Martin chuzzlewit
Another of Charles Dickens classic, With names that suit there personalities. Some you loathe, some you feel for. What more needs to be said.
Published 4 months ago by G. Newman
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