in the UK
The distinctive combination of manic comedy, bitter satire and fierce melodrama separates this novel from its author's other works. Published in 1844 after Dickens returned from America, the action moves between Britain and United States in ways which highligh the failing of both societies. The Everyman edition is being published to tie in with a major BBC TV serialization in the autumn.
Publisher and industry reviews
UK Kirkus review
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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