The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

- Charles Dickens
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Dickens thought it was “in a hundred points, immeasurably the best” of his stories. Yet it was also one of his greatest flops. Compared to his other novels, _The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit_ was a dismal failure in terms of sales and the main reason for Dickens falling out with his long term publisher Chapman & Hall. They invoked a penalty clause and demanded that he pay back a portion of the advance which he refused. _Martin Chuzzlewit_ was also dimly received in Dickens friendly America. Its vitriolic satire of American customs and manners was met with astonished rage on the other side of the Atlantic and Dickens began to receive masses of hate mail from offended Americans. _The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, His Relatives, Friends and Enemies, comprising All His Wills and Ways... The Whole Forming a Complete Key to the House of Chuzzlewit_ is the original title, in typical elaborate Dickensian overkill. In fact, in his almost apologetic preface to the first edition, he justifies it. He declares, “What is exaggeration to one class of minds and perceptions is plain truth to another...” and goes on to testify that some of the events and characters in his works are based on reality and not wholly imagined. _Martin Chuzzlewit_ is the tale of a most unprepossessing set of Chuzzlewits. Martin senior, a miserly millionaire has adopted a young girl with the idea of having free help around the house. His grandson falls in love with this hapless orphan whose employment and connection to the house is to last only as long as the old man lives. Young Martin rebels and leaves the house to seek employment with a crooked and greedy architect, Seth Pecksniff (one of Dickens' most memorable villains) Meanwhile, more Chuzzlewits emerge in the form of Anthony and his son Jonas who have concocted a nefarious Ponzi scheme. Young Martin travels to America and almost dies in a malaria ridden swamp. This is the turning point of Martin's life and he becomes a changed man. The rest of the story follows quintessential Dickensian twists and turns. Some of the most hilarious passages in English literature are contained in _Martin Chuzzelwit_. It also features two of Dickens' wickedest villains, Pecksniff and Jonas Chuzzlewit. In Tom Pinch and Mark Tapley, the reader finds much to commend, while Sairey Gamp is one of Dickens' most famous female villains. _Martin Chuzzlewit_ is one of the best of Dickens and indeed a great addition to your bookshelf!

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