Top critical review
Not for Me
on 26 November 2013
I had been aware of Dickens' American Notes for quite some time and finally got round to reading them - or at least attempting to read them.
I was drawn to the book by my curiosity of Americans of that era. I was quite disappointed. There are passages where I gained some fresh insights but these were more or less overwhelmed by great wadges of verbiage on 'institutions'. Dickens seems to have had an obsession with prisons, orphanages, lunatic asylums and government. None of these are of any particular interest to this reader.
One aspect that he does cover - and at length - is the quaint habit, popular amongst males of that era, of chewing tobacco. Dickens seems to have been both fascinated and revolted by this custom. He goes to some length to describe how the carpeted floors of the grand buildings in Washington were extensively stained and splattered by the expectorations of the tobacco chewers. Nice!
All in all I found these American Notes quite hard going and gave up on them quite easily at the half way mark.