Set partly in the United States, this novel includes a searing satire on mid-nineteenth-century America. Martin Chuzzlewit is the story of two Chuzzlewits, Martin and Jonas, who have inherited the characteristic Chuzzlewit selfishness. It contrasts their diverse fates: moral redemption and worldly success for one and increasingly desperate crime for the other. In her Introduction to this new edition, Patricia Ingham discusses how, in writing a story that was meant only to recommend "goodness and innocence", Dickens succeeded in exploring "the intertwining of moral sensibility and brutality".
The greed of his family has led wealthy old Martin Chuzzlewit to become suspicious and misanthropic, leaving his grandson and namesake to make his own way in the world. And so young Martin sets out from the Wiltshire home of his supposed champion, the scheming architect Pecksniff, to seek his fortune in America. In depicting Martin's journey - an experience that teaches him to question his inherited self-interest and egotism - Dickens created many vividly realized figures- the brutish lout Jonas Chuzzlewit, plotting to gain the family fortune; Martin's optimistic manservant, Mark Tapley; gentle Tom Pinch; and the drunken and corrupt private nurse, Mrs Gamp. With its portrayal of greed, blackmail and murder, and its searing satire on America Dickens's novel is a powerful and blackly comic story of hypocrisy and redemption.In her introduction, Patricia Ingham examines characterization, the central themes of the novel, and Dickens's depiction of America. This edition also includes two new prefaces, Dickens's postscript written in 1868, his working papers, a note on Mrs Gamp's eccentric speech, a chronology, updated further reading, appendices and original illustrations by 'Phiz'.Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions. If you enjoyed Martin Chuzzlewit, you might like Dickens's Dombey and Son, also available in Penguin Classics.
Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist whose popularity was established by the phenomenally successful PICKWICK PAPERS (1836-7). His novels captured and held the public imagination over a period of more than thirty years. Dickens is considered one of the greatest novelists in the English language.Patricia Ingham is Fellow of St Anne's College, Reader in English, and The Times Lecturer in English at the University of Oxford.
Martin Chuzzlewit is a dramatic serial on Masterpiece Theatre, a PBS television series presented by WGBH-TV, Boston, made possible by a grant from Mobil Corporation.
This was one of Dickens's least successful books commercially; it would be a masterpiece for most other writers. It deals with an inheritance, that classic trope of Dickens's, and while it moves from farce to grim criminal psychology its main focus is on selfishness and hypocrisy. Martin and Jonas are both descendants of the brothers Chuzzlewit and are born and bred to the same selfishness - goods, after all, are not the only things that people inherit - and the novel charts their contrasting destinies. Following a period in America, where he is defrauded by the utopian Eden Land Company, Martin has pause to reconsider his life and returns to Britain having learned a lesson about the nature of generosity. Angus Wilson, the novelist and critic, thought Martin's cousin Jonas was a stunning creation. He wrote: 'In the development of the brilliantly drawn Jonas Chuzzlewit, under the stress of blackmail, from a vulgar money-grabbing brute into a murderer with a dark and complicated life of inner terrors and superstitions that would have done credit to Dostoevsky'. Alongside the villainous Jonas, other characters people the book memorably: the fabulous hypocrite Pecksniff, and Mrs Gamp, the disreputable old nurse 'dispoged' to the not altogether occasional glass of gin. (Kirkus UK)
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