Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


Martin Chuzzlewit (1844)

by Charles Dickens

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,147532,870 (3.78)2 / 240
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is, according to Dickens, a novel about selfishness. And every member of the Chuzzlewit family is given the chance to display their own brand thereof, among them the infamous villain Jonas Chuzzlewit. After sales of the first few serial installments were poor, Dickens moved the action to America, which he satirized as a vast wilderness peopled by likewise selfish characters.

.… (more)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

» See also 240 mentions

English (49)  Spanish (1)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Martin Chuzzlewit feels like the beginning of Dickens' second act. While all of his previous books had strengths (and I probably still viscerally prefer Nicholas Nickleby), this, his 9th major work and 6th novel, was written after the celebrity Dickens' return from America, and marks the start of a busier lifestyle for the author, which included social engagements, speaking tours, and community responsibilities, not to mention a growing household. My suspicion is that he started devoting more time to the nuances of his writing - not the descriptions, which have always been first-rate, but the character arcs. The vivid characters of Pecksniff and Mrs. Gamp have a comic life of their own, while the analysis of human folly among the Chuzzlewit family is a deeper, more internal attempt at storytelling which Dickens would return to in his next novel, Dombey and Son. For the first time, Dickens hasn't felt the need to make his central character a paper-thin but sentimental naif (not that young Martin is exactly the most scintillating of figures).

We'll dock a couple of points for the American sequences, which have a reasonable level of thematic resonance but are clearly filler, but this is a new, more "novelistic" side of Dickens that can't be ignored. I certainly think more people should be reading Martin Chuzzlewit when they feel like a taste of Dickens. ( )
  therebelprince | Apr 21, 2024 |
Every year over my winter break, I read one new-to-me novel by Charles Dickens. This year, I am trying something new and going to read and write it up by installments; Martin Chuzzlewit originally appeared in nineteen monthly parts from January 1843 to July 1844, the installments averaging 2.8 chapters.In the last few years, I've burned out on some mediocre Dickens novels, so my hope is this will liven it up a bit.

No. I (Chs. 1-3)
At some point, Dickens became the king of the opening. I remember being gripped by the birth scene of David Copperfield in David Copperfield (1849-50) (though maybe that's because I read it with my newborn son on my lap), the opening court scene of Bleak House (1852-53) is amazing, as is the birth in prison of Amy "Little Dorrit" Dorrit in Little Dorrit (1855-57), and who, of course, can forget Pip in the graveyeard in Great Expectations (1860-61), a scene burned into my memory by its Wishbone adaptation? When I read A Tale of Two Cities (1859), I went so far as to write, "I imagine there's not a Dickens novel that doesn't open great; he knew
how to set a scene. Mysterious riders in the night, cryptic messages, well-observed humor about people taking public transit. I was totally
into it."

Well, clearly Charles Dickens did not have this power yet in 1843. The novel opens with a weird, satirical, only intermittently humorous history of the Chuzzlewit family, then moves on to a long and tedious chapter about the Pecksnif family, then to another long and tedious disquisition about an old man in an inn, who we very belatedly learn is Martin Chuzzlewit... though, not the Martin Chuzzlewit, who at the end of the first installment of the novel ostensibly devoted to his "life and adventures" is still resolutely off-screen! Wow, way to hook 'em, Boz. A lot of Dickens novels, I have found, begin strong but get tedious, but much worse are the ones that—like Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39)—start tedious and continue in that way. Hopefully this is not one of those.

No. II (Chs. 4-5)
Far be it for me to play backseat editor, but if I'd been Charles Dickens's publisher and got the manuscript, I'd've told him to dump the first three chapters and start with the fourth. It's perfect Dickens: having heard that old Martin Chuzzlewit is dying, everyone vaguely related begins lurking nearby, hoping to somehow finagle themselves into his good graces—and thus, of course, his will. The whole chapter culminates in a meeting between all the relations, who all despise each other and spend their time wittily insulting each other. It would have been a delightful, intriguing opening, but it makes a strong fourth chapter instead.

Unfortunately, the fifth chapter is dull, focusing on Pecksnif's former student (Mr. Pinch) recruiting a new student, who turns out to be the younger Martin Chuzzlewit. It doesn't half take its time about it; in other books, Dickens does the "many disparate characters doing stuff" thing well (e.g., Our Mutual Friend [1864-65], Bleak House) but so far I am finding it hard to latch onto any of them here.

No. III (Chs. 6-8)
I have to say, Dickens is very much overestimating how interesting I find Pecksnif. Like, he's funny, but he's not that funny. The three chapters here cover Martin Chuzzlewit and Mr. Pinch coming to know each other better, the two of them being harangued for money by Slyme, a lawyer, and Pecksnif going on a coach journey to London. Plus also a guy quitting working at a pub. It's a bit all over the place, still, and it all goes on a bit too much. Like, I do find some of the Martin/Pinch interactions very cute (such as Martin falling asleep to Pinch reading Shakespeare), and there are a couple good jokes in their encounter with Slyme and his associate, Mr. Tigg, but it just goes on and on and on. This has the undisciplined sprawl of the eighteenth-century picaresque (never a favorite genre of mine), but instead of being about one person, it's about a million of them for some reason.

It feels weird to say this, but Bleak House was much more tightly written!

Continue with installment no. iv (chs. 9-10)...
  Stevil2001 | Mar 8, 2024 |
Read this while I was an exchange student in Italy. It’s anti-amrican bits were hard to take at the time, but overall I enjoyed it ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
"The American one", in which Dickens put his 1842 visit to America to use. His stinging disillusionment with what he found ("Dickens had a traumatising experience in America," argues Prof Meckier. "He became less radical, less optimistic, and he downgraded his view of human nature.") has an analogue in Trumpian America and its horrified resisters of the current day, an evergreen and renewable circumstance no doubt, human nature being what it is. Extending his incomparable sarcastic satire from class-ridden England to what he saw as the amoral selfishness of America, his American section is easily the best and most memorable thing about the novel, producing prophetic passages such as
[T]he greater part of it may be summed up in one word - dollars. All their cares, hopes, joys, affections, virtues, and associations, seemed to be melted down into dollars... Men were weighed by their dollars, measures gauged by their dollars; life was auctioneered, appraised, put up, and knocked down for its dollars. The next respectable thing to dollars was any venture having their attainment for its end. The more of that worthless ballast, honour and fair dealing, which any man cast overboard from the ship of his Good Name and Good Intent, the more ample stowage room he had for dollars. Make commerce one huge lie and mighty theft. Deface the banner of the nation for an idle rag; pollute it star by star; and cut out stripe by stripe as from the arm of a degraded soldier. Do anything for dollars!
Dickens' theme in this novel is selfishness, and he extends its focus from the American nation to his English protagonists, and for the latter at least redemption is found in the two related persons of Martin Chuzzlewit. Rank moral hypocrisy is personified in the very Dickensian name of Pecksniff, and of course, being Dickens, he has his impossibly pure hearted and good characters, ironically here surnamed Pinch. The story is stretched out too far, as was the nature of his serialized novels, and the heroes live happily ever after, and the villians meet with bad ends, so however traumatized Dickens was by his visit to hypocritical and self-centered America, it didn't yet affect his novelistic denouements. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
A major improvement on Barnaby Rudge. Semblance of a plot and some great characters. Even some character development. ( )
  infjsarah | Aug 8, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (98 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dickens, Charlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barrett, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Feld, LeoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furbank, P.N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Houghton, Arthur BoydCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingham, PatriciaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobi, DerekNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krauß, ErwinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mathias, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russell, GeoffreyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wall, StephenChronologysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
To Miss Burdett Coutts this tale is dedicated, with the true and earnest regard of the author
First words
As no lady or gentleman, with any claims to polite breeding, can possibly sympathise with the Chuzzlewit Family without being first assured of the extreme antiquity of the race, it is a great satisfaction to know that it undoubtedly descended in a direct line from Adam and Eve; and was, in the very earliest times, closely connected with the agricultural interest.
"You have heard of him whose misery (the gratification of his own foolish wish) was, that he turned every thing he touched into gold. The curse of my existence, and the realization of my own mad desire, is that by the golden standard which I bear about me, I am doomed to try the metal of all other men, and find it false and hollow."
But it's no use to despond. I can but do that, when I have tried everything and failed; and even then it won't serve me much.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is Martin Chuzzlewit as a unified work (and with no additional stories). Please do not combine with compilations or with individual volumes of Martin Chuzzlewit. Thank you.
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is, according to Dickens, a novel about selfishness. And every member of the Chuzzlewit family is given the chance to display their own brand thereof, among them the infamous villain Jonas Chuzzlewit. After sales of the first few serial installments were poor, Dickens moved the action to America, which he satirized as a vast wilderness peopled by likewise selfish characters.


No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions


Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.78)
0.5 1
1 10
1.5 2
2 20
2.5 4
3 92
3.5 25
4 174
4.5 16
5 85

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 204,762,093 books! | Top bar: Always visible