Martin Chuzzlewit

( 18 )

Overview

Young Martin's comic odyssey to the New World; the naive Tom Pinch's rite of passage from innocence to enlightenment; the smooth scheming of the arch hypocrite Pecksniff; the grotesque self-love of Mrs. Gamp; the increasingly-desperate machinations of murderous Jonas Chuzzlewit; all are portrayed with a typically Dickensian flair for unerringly accurate social satire and buoyantly extravagant characterization.
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Martin Chuzzlewit

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Overview

Young Martin's comic odyssey to the New World; the naive Tom Pinch's rite of passage from innocence to enlightenment; the smooth scheming of the arch hypocrite Pecksniff; the grotesque self-love of Mrs. Gamp; the increasingly-desperate machinations of murderous Jonas Chuzzlewit; all are portrayed with a typically Dickensian flair for unerringly accurate social satire and buoyantly extravagant characterization.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7-12-Dickens' satire on the Victorian family and the philosophies of a society which sought to turn men into machines. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433254024
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2008
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 3
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812–1870) is considered one of the English language's greatest writers. Peter Ackroyd’s biography Dickens was published in 1990 to enormous critical acclaim. His other titles include London: A Biography, Poe: A Life Cut Short, Shakespeare: The Biography, and Thames: The Biography.

Biography

Born on February 7, 1812, Charles Dickens was the second of eight children in a family burdened with financial troubles. Despite difficult early years, he became the most successful British writer of the Victorian age.

In 1824, young Charles was withdrawn from school and forced to work at a boot-blacking factory when his improvident father, accompanied by his mother and siblings, was sentenced to three months in a debtor's prison. Once they were released, Charles attended a private school for three years. The young man then became a solicitor's clerk, mastered shorthand, and before long was employed as a Parliamentary reporter. When he was in his early twenties, Dickens began to publish stories and sketches of London life in a variety of periodicals.

It was the publication of Pickwick Papers (1836-1837) that catapulted the twenty-five-year-old author to national renown. Dickens wrote with unequaled speed and often worked on several novels at a time, publishing them first in monthly installments and then as books. His early novels Oliver Twist (1837-1838), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1841), and A Christmas Carol (1843) solidified his enormous, ongoing popularity. As Dickens matured, his social criticism became increasingly biting, his humor dark, and his view of poverty darker still. David Copperfield (1849-1850), Bleak House (1852-1853), Hard Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1861), and Our Mutual Friend (1864-1865) are the great works of his masterful and prolific period.

In 1858 Dickens's twenty-three-year marriage to Catherine Hogarth dissolved when he fell in love with Ellen Ternan, a young actress. The last years of his life were filled with intense activity: writing, managing amateur theatricals, and undertaking several reading tours that reinforced the public's favorable view of his work but took an enormous toll on his health. Working feverishly to the last, Dickens collapsed and died on June 8, 1870, leaving The Mystery of Edwin Drood uncompleted.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of David Copperfield.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Charles John Huffam Dickens (full name) "Boz" (pen name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 7, 1812
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portsmouth, England
    1. Date of Death:
      June 18, 1870
    2. Place of Death:
      Gad's Hill, Kent, England

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER I
The One Thing Needful

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, Sir!”

The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellerage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders,—nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was,—all helped the emphasis.

“In this life, we want nothing but Facts, Sir; nothing but Facts!”

Thespeaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim.

CHAPTER II
Murdering the Innocents

Thomas Gradgrind, Sir. A man of realities. A man of facts and calculations. A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over, and who is not to be talked into allowing for anything over. Thomas Gradgrind, Sir—peremptorily Thomas—Thomas Gradgrind. With a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table always in his pocket, Sir, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what it comes to. It is a mere question of figures, a case of simple arithmetic. You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief into the head of George Gradgrind, or Augustus Gradgrind, or John Gradgrind, or Joseph Gradgrind (all supposititious, non-existent persons), but into the head of Thomas Gradgrind—no, Sir!

In such terms Mr. Gradgrind always mentally introduced himself, whether to his private circle of acquaintance, or to the public in general. In such terms, no doubt, substituting the words “boys and girls,” for “Sir,” Thomas Gradgrind now presented Thomas Gradgrind to the little pitchers before him, who were to be filled so full of facts.

Indeed, as he eagerly sparkled at them from the cellarage before mentioned, he seemed a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle with facts, and prepared to blow them clean out of the regions of childhood at one discharge. He seemed a galvanizing apparatus, too, charged with a grim mechanical substitute for the tender young imaginations that were to be stormed away.

“Girl number twenty,” said Mr. Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, “I don’t know that girl. Who is that girl?”

“Sissy Jupe, sir,” explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.

“Sissy is not a name,” said Mr. Gradgrind. “Don’t call yourself Sissy. Call yourself Cecilia.”

“It’s father as calls me Sissy, sir,” returned the young girl in a trembling voice, and with another curtsey.

“Then he has no business to do it,” said Mr. Gradgrind. “Tell him he mustn’t. Cecilia Jupe. Let me see. What is your father?”

“He belongs to the horse-riding, if you please, sir.”

Mr. Gradgrind frowned, and waved off the objectionable calling with his hand.

“We don’t want to know anything about that, here. You mustn’t tell us about that, here. Your father breaks horses, don’t he?”

“If you please, sir, when they can get any to break, they do break horses in the ring, sir.”

“You mustn’t tell us about the ring, here. Very well, then. Describe your father as a horsebreaker. He doctors sick horses, I dare say?”

“Oh yes, sir.”

“Very well, then. He is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier and horsebreaker. Give me your definition of a horse.”

(Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand.)

“Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!” said Mr. Gradgrind, for the general behoof of all the little pitchers. “Girl number twenty possessed of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy’s definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours.”

The square finger, moving here and there, lighted suddenly on Bitzer, perhaps because he chanced to sit in the same ray of sunlight which, darting in at one of the bare windows of the intensely whitewashed room, irradiated Sissy. For, the boys and girls sat on the face of the inclined plane in two compact bodies, divided up the centre by a narrow interval; and Sissy, being at the corner of a row on the sunny side, came in for the beginning of a sunbeam, of which Bitzer, being at the corner of a row on the other side, a few rows in advance, caught the end. But, whereas the girl was so dark-eyed and dark-haired, that she seemed to receive a deeper and more lustrous colour from the sun, when it shone upon her, the boy was so light-eyed and light-haired that the self-same rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour he ever possessed. His cold eyes would hardly have been eyes, but for the short ends of lashes which, by bringing them into immediate contrast with something paler than themselves, expressed their form. His short-cropped hair might have been a mere continuation of the sandy freckles on his forehead and face. His skin was so unwholesomely deficient in the natural tinge, that he looked as though, if he were cut, he would bleed white.

“Bitzer,” said Thomas Gradgrind. “Your definition of a horse.”

“Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.” Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

“Now girl number twenty,” said Mr. Gradgrind. “You know what a horse is.”

She curtseyed again, and would have blushed deeper, if she could have blushed deeper than she had blushed all this time. Bitzer, after rapidly blinking at Thomas Gradgrind with both eyes at once, and so catching the light upon his quivering ends of lashes that they looked like the antennæ of busy insects, put his knuckles to his freckled forehead, and sat down again.

The third gentleman now stepped forth. A mighty man at cutting and drying, he was; a government officer; in his way (and in most other people’s too), a professed pugilist; always in training, always with a system to force down the general throat like a bolus, always to be heard of at the bar of his little Public-office, ready to fight all England. To continue in fistic phraseology, he had a genius for coming up to the scratch,2 wherever and whatever it was, and proving himself an ugly customer. He would go in and damage any subject whatever with his right, follow up with his left, stop, exchange, counter, bore his opponent (he always fought All England)3 to the ropes, and fall upon him neatly. He was certain to knock the wind out of common sense, and render that unlucky adversary deaf to the call of time. And he had it in charge from high authority to bring about the great public- office Millennium, when Commissioners should reign upon earth.

“Very well,” said this gentleman, briskly smiling, and folding his arms. “That’s a horse. Now, let me ask you girls and boys, Would you paper a room with representations of horses?”

After a pause, one half of the children cried in chorus, “Yes, Sir!” Upon which the other half, seeing in the gentleman’s face that Yes was wrong, cried out in chorus, “No, Sir!”—as the custom is, in these examinations.

“Of course, No. Why wouldn’t you?”

A pause. One corpulent slow boy, with a wheezy manner of breathing, ventured the answer, Because he wouldn’t paper a room at all, but would paint it.

“You must paper it,” said the gentleman, rather warmly.

“You must paper it,” said Thomas Gradgrind, “whether you like it or not. Don’t tell us you wouldn’t paper it. What do you mean, boy?”

Copyright 2001 by Charles Dickens
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    A reviewer

    I am suprised that most people I meet, when asked what their favorite Dickens books is, reply either 'Little Dorrit' or 'Great Expectations'. Nobody mentions Martin Chuzzlewit which is an amazing book. The characters are so real, they might be the people living next door. Wickedness in all forms is portrayed in the gaiety of Mercy (pun intended), in the righteousness of the famous Pecksniff, in the peevishness of Chuzzlewit and the plain evil of the old nurse. The good people win, and the bad fall. This universal theme undergoes so many subtle modifications that there seem to be a new set of rules. Dickens manages to describle places equally if not better than his characters and I was thrilled with Todgers, a boarding-house and The Dragon, the local bar. Find a quiet spot under the shade of some tree and start reading.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    Great book and brilliantly written.

    Just started reading this book and I have to say that Dickens is a master at words. His masterful work is apparent once again in this book where the characters really come alive, and the description is so real. It's as if his characters are across the room. This Penguin Classics edition is a good copy. It gives some really interesting and insightful background information pertaining to this book that is very valuable. I must say, though, that the excerpt from Chap. 1 and 2 displayed here is actually from Dickens' Hard Times, not Martin Chuzzlewit.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2014

    B

    H

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2014

    Hunter to reanba read my post......

    Below a bit.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Luke

    Sure, see you there. :)

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    B

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Myst

    Hands Cali a firestone amulet and disappears.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Beth

    Night! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! love you lots, camo! Love and butterfly repellant, BELLE over & out :) †

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Cali

    Oh wow claire!! Its beautiful!!! Thank you so much! I shall see you all tomorrow!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Sam

    *walks outside*

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2012

    Claire

    Appears silentlt

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    DANCE EVERYBODY!!!

    sorry briana. Im stealing ur ideas that arnt working. DANCE! ITS A DANCE BDAY PARTY! GRAB A PARTNER AND DDDAAAANNNNCCCEEEEE!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2012

    Cali

    *shyly walks in her hair curled and a small tiara in it. Her hazel eyes are dusted with green sparkles and her lips have red lipstick on tgem. Her dress is realtree ap camo with a white sash and small white ribbon hem. On her wrist is a gorgeous bracelet and around her neck is a silver locket. She has on white heels to match her dress* hi everyone thanks for coming! *she shyly walks to leah* thank you so much! You have no idea what this means to me!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Cloud

    Glist pecks at Claire x3

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Claire to Chris

    Watch the wall... ^_^

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    CHRIS

    *TACKLES XAVIER* WHERE THE FUDGE HAVE YOU BEEN!!!!!!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Leah

    *hugs cali* i gtg....night...happy birthday

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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