American Notes: A Final Wrap-Up ~ With a Look-Ahead to Martin Chuzzlewit

Wherein we revisit our final week’s reading of American Notes (Week 44 of the Dickens Chronological Reading Club); with a discussion wrap-up; and a look-ahead to Martin Chuzzlewit.

By the #DickensClub members, edited/compiled by Rach

“Slavery,” by Thomas Nast. Image scanned by Philip V. Allingham. Via Victorian Web.

Friends, thank you so much for joining us on Dickens’s 1842 journey to America! It will be fascinating to discuss how he incorporates his experiences into his next novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, which we’ll be starting this week…

But first, a few quick links:

  1. General Mems
  2. Discussion Wrap-Up (Chapters 13-18)
  3. A Look-Ahead to Martin Chuzzlewit (8-14 Nov, 2022)

General Mems

Happy November, friends! Whether or not you’re lost in the fog of Chancery (I know, it’s a bit early for Bleak House on our reading journey, but still…), or Drooding it out, I hope you have a cozy reading nook for Martin Chuzzlewit.

Besides being thrilled to welcome our newest members, Gabriela J. and Rob G. I am so excited to be welcoming back our dear Yvonne L. with Martin Chuzzlewit! You’ve been missed, Yvonne!

Also, friends, what a joy to be sharing my friend Deacon Matthew’s recent podcast. On this episode, Boze and I chat with him about Oliver Twist, especially regarding “Found Families”! What a delight to have the three of us this time. Our chat starts at about 14 minutes in.

If you’re counting, today is day 308 (and week 45) in our #DickensClub! Today we wrap up our optional read of Dickens’s 1842 travelogue, American Notes, our eighth read of the group. This week we’ll be starting Dickens’s “American” novel, Martin Chuzzlewit! Please feel free to comment below this post for the first week’s chapters, or use the hashtag #DickensClub if you’re commenting on twitter.

No matter where you’re at in the reading process, a huge “thank you” for reading along with us. Heartfelt thanks to our dear Dickens Fellowship, The Dickens Society, and the Charles Dickens Letters Project for retweets, and to all those liking, sharing, and encouraging our Club, including Gina Dalfonzo, Dr. Christian Lehmann and Dr. Pete Orford. Huge “thank you” also to The Circumlocution Office (on twitter also!) for providing such a marvelous online resource for us.

And for any more recent members or for those who might be interested in joining: the revised two-and-a-half year reading schedule can be found here. Boze’s introduction to American Notes and Martin Chuzzlewit can be found here; Chris’s supplement of Peter Ackroyd’s introductions can be found here. If you’ve been reading along with us but aren’t yet on the Member List, we would love to add you! Please feel free to message Rach here on the site, or on twitter.

Discussion Wrap-Up

Miscellany

This week, we celebrated Guy Fawkes Day (“Remember, Remember…”), and the Dickens Fellowship reminded us of the distinguished pedigree of the Chuzzlewit family, whom we’ll be meeting this week…

The Dickens Fellowship on twitter…

For those of our members who are on twitter, I created a poll about whether or not to resume the daily #DickensDecember tweets this year. (I had a tweet or longish thread each day last December on Dickens–which was nothing too unusual, but that I often tried to connect it with the season or individual date when possible.) Looks like I’ll be going ahead with it again…watch out!

Rach M. on twitter

And I discussed the suppressed original Introduction to American Notes, which John Forster talked Dickens out of publishing, until Forster included it in his biography after his friend’s death:

Rach M. on twitter

Maybe the Notes would have been more popular if Dickens had thrown some animals in there? (Besides all the pigs in the street, that is…)

Solitary Confinement

Last week, we shared the e-conversation between Boze and yours truly. One of the topics we discussed quite a bit was Dickens’s scathing portrayal of solitary confinement (and how it would be used to striking effect with Dr. Manette years later, in A Tale of Two Cities).

Dana found these passages in Dickens “shockingly powerful” and very applicable today:

Dana R. comments

Our newest member, Gabriela, will be joining us for the Christmas Books. Here she discussed the impact of the portrayal of Dr. Manette, whose characterization was stamped by the “almost eighteen years” of solitary confinement, a portrayal shaped by witnessing the inhumane experiment of Pennsylvania’s Eastern Penitentiary:

Gaby J. comments

I added in response that Dickens is masterful “at creating the atmosphere of a situation” so that one not only reasons the wrong, but feels it:

Rach M. comments

The “Tunnel of Despair”

Lenny has been finding American Notes and Dickens’s “nightmare trip” a rough go as he progresses, in spite of the “astute” observations: “I feel like I’m reading the initial script for a sordid Ken Burns documentary.” And: “in spite of his initial exuberance regarding the various sites and sounds of Boston, much of his documentary reporting from that time on [landfall] tends to leave me very depressed and sometimes actually nauseous.”

Lenny H. comments

“Dickens Should Have Fired His Travel Agent”

Chris, who has just returned from her own adventure (welcome back!) finds American Notes of interest because “I frequently have traveled many of the exact routes Dickens took. The eastern seaboard between Virginia and Massachusetts is very familiar as is the route through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana to the ‘far west’ of central Illinois and western Missouri.” However, she feels that “Dickens should have fired his travel agent for sending him to the Midwest in April”:

Chris M. comments

A Look-Ahead to Martin Chuzzlewit (8-14 November, 2022)

Martin Chuzzlewit was published in monthly installments. This week we’ll be reading Chapters 1-12, which constituted installments I-V, published December 1842 to May 1843.

If you’d like to read it online, you can Martin Chuzzlewit at The Circumlocution Office, or it can be downloaded at sites such as Gutenberg.

23 Comments

  1. Dear Inimitables,

    First off, I strongly recommend that we DCRC community members all listen to Rach and Boze in conversation with Deacon Matthew, as they share their deep and wide insights about things Dickens, especially the wonderfully heart-warming phenomenon of the “found family.”

    Second, thanks to Lenny and Chis for their richly complementary thoughts about Dickens’ travel through the U.S. in 1842. Why he and his wife didn’t call it quits is a mystery! And, I wonder if he indeed heeded Chris’ advice and fired his travel agent upon his return to England?!?

    So interesting about Forster prevailing upon Dickens to forego the initial introduction, which might have rubbed salt in the wound of Dickens’ poignant critique of much of what he witnessed in America–e.g., slavery first and foremost, and the transactional nature of much our social life. As Dana Rail pointed out, it is disheartening to consider how intractable many of these worst traits seem to be.

    Was Forster chiefly concerned about offending the sensibilities of Americans? Was it, at least in part, motivated by a business concern–i.e., selling more books?

    I LOVED (I think) Rachel’s insight: not just reasoning, but feeling, the injustice, the cruelty, the barbarity, the wrong. This is hitting the bull’s eye about Dickens’ impact–arousing the emotions to motivate action to correct terrible policies and practices. And, simply to let us connect more deeply with complex characters.

    Re-reading Boze’s astute insights in his introduction to “American Notes,” I am consoled to imagine that Dickens’ trip to American perhaps caused him to think of himself for the first time as a distinctly British phenomenon. Perhaps that was worth the price of admission!

    Blessings, All, as we forge ahead with “Martin Chuzzlewit,” which will undoubtedly continue to treat us to critique and satire of many things American!!!

    Daniel

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow Daniel:

    This is such a loaded and prescient statement of yours: “…and the transactional nature of much our social life.” I say this not only because of its broad application to AMERICAN NOTES but, more specifically, to the opening chapters of MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. So far, virtually everything that has happened in our “new” novel involves either “transactional” fraud (Pecksniff as teacher) or various and nefarious “transactions” planned by the huge assembly of so-called “relations” around old Mr. Chuzzlewit–all wanting to curry favor with their wealthy family member for a chunk of his wealth.

    And we’re not even in America, yet….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just wanted to say that this is one of my favorite quotes from Montague Tigg.

    “As Hamlet says, Hercules may lay about him with his club in every possible direction, but he can’t prevent the cats from making a most intolerable row on the roofs of the houses, or the dogs from being shot in the hot weather if they run about the streets unmuzzled.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You can see Dickens wants to do something different with Martin Chuzzlewit. He’s moving away from the picaresque genre toward the bildungsroman. In less pretentious terms, he’s moving away from road trip stories toward coming-of-age ones. (Barnaby Rudge definitely has elements of a coming-of-age story, but most of the actual development for the young characters occurs “offstage.”) Martin the younger is much more flawed than any protagonist Dickens had written at this point in his career.

    It’s interesting to compare Tom Pinch to similar mentally disabled characters Dickens had done before like Smike and Barnaby Rudge. I know Tom isn’t explicitly mentally disabled, but he feels very much like them, especially if you look at the physical descriptions of him. However, we’ll see that Tom gets character development that they don’t and ends up becoming more capable and relatively more independent.

    Unfortunately, Martin Chuzzlewit is the first Dickens book with which I have an issue that will be prevalent with too many of his later works. There are so many characters and subplots, and it takes so long to reach the point where we learn how, if at all, they’re important to the main plot. The stuff with Todgers and Bailey really tries my patience.

    I’ve been planning to do some posts on my WordPress blog about interesting adaptations of Dickens’s Christmas books this month, but unexpected problems have arisen. On the draft of the first post, half the images have disappeared. Actually, they appear for a few seconds while it’s loading and then disappear. Unlike other times where I’ve had problems with images on the blog, I can’t really replace them while editing. They’re just not visible. The same thing is happening on some of my old posts too. Weirdly, it seems to be specific to Microsoft Edge. All the images are showing up on Google Chrome.

    The reason I’ve whined about the issue for a whole paragraph is that there’s a possibility someone reading this will have a suggestion.

    P. S.
    John Westlock reminds me John Browdie, though he’s not as fun, and Mark Tapley definitely gives off some Sam Weller vibes.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. LOVE the descriptions of the scene near Salisbury in Chapter two…the autumn turning into winter. Such atmosphere, and a foreboding in the sense of things decaying, like humans in the later passages of life, just as old Mr Chuzzlewit is thinking of his legacy and those who will follow him.

    Who doesn’t love Tom Pinch and Mark Tapley?

    Mark seems a bit of a riff on the consummate faithful manservant, Sam Weller, but still—he’s his own man, and has the endearingly quixotic trait of always attempting to keep jolly under the most trying conditions, and they can never be trying enough to suit him.

    I just have to mention here too how much I love the scene where Pecksniff is drunk and waxing loving to Mrs Todgers! This scene is absolutely brilliant, and I think I highlighted the whole passage.

    **Martin Chuzzlewit as “Problem Play”?**

    For the rest of my initial thoughts, I’m going to focus on MC as being somewhat in the nature of a “problem play”—say, a Shakesperean problem play like Measure for Measure. (I don’t say this to detract from it—actually, Measure for Measure is one of my favorite plays, in spite of its many issues.) I’m curious as to how this reread of MC—as it has been a long time for me—will bear out the idea, and how well Dickens is able to resolve a number of issues that he is setting up in terms of characterization.

    As to Tom: I recall thinking what an enormous contrast there was between Tom and, say, the young Martin Chuzzlewit. The young MC is certainly not very likeable. We all—or, many of us, anyway—love a good ol’ imperfect, problematic character who needs a wake-up call. But usually there are certain traits—or enigmas or mysteries, or some sense of tenderer feelings which he is suppressing—to make us endeared to this problematic hero/heroine to want their best. MC is, however—in keeping with one of the most obvious themes so far, besides money and hypocrisy—selfish. That is a tough trait to make palatable to the reader, for the title/protagonist character. And, sure, he has his good points: his honesty, and his sacrificing his grandfather’s goodwill to stay true to his lady-love. But he is so keenly aware of his own sacrifice himself, and makes others—even his love, Mary—so aware of this, that it is a difficult flaw to overlook, even when we have some confidence that he’ll grow through his journey.

    In Martin, I almost feel we have another Henry Gowan (Little Dorrit)—selfish, self-absorbed, complacent about the good gifts they’ve been given (Mary, or Pet, for example), flippant.

    Again to Tom: I feel that we have, in some way, a barometer for measuring out the worthiness of all our *other* characters, in Tom Pinch. It is how other characters treat him, and/or, how they change (*if* they change) in their treatment of him, that can accurately gauge their worth. We know well the enormous cruelty and condescension of Pecksniff, Merry, and Cherry, to him. But even the young Martin Chuzzlewit does not show well. On the contrary, he’s nearly as bad as Pecksniff, at least to start out with. Sure, at least young Martin is friendly towards him (albeit in a condescending way); a part of him sees his value—but mostly only as a grudging and veiled way, as he doesn’t want to feel in any way like they are on an equal footing. What Tom so readily takes with an abundance of goodwill—Martin’s desire to one day provide for him as a benefactor—is **exactly** what Pecksniff has been doing! Martin at one point even talks about how well Tom’s praise will reflect on himself—this is pure Pecksniffery!

    As to old Martin Chuzzlewit, I don’t remember with enough clarity just the nature in which we see old Martin later, but I have this sense of him being along the lines of the Duke in Measure for Measure—and I just throw this out there as something to look out for, and whether the parallel ends up working or not. Does the old Martin have something of a godlike bent to try and control the situations he’s in, even if for an ostensibly *good* purpose? Is this problematic???

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lovely insights, Rach. Can we call MC a “problem novel.” Or is that just too general–as maybe most “great” novels are filled with “problems” and irritations that just won’t go away no matter how many times one reads them. In this context, I think of Hemingway’s FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS as a “problem novel”–the unnatural prose, the overstated character presentations, the sometimes rank sentimentalism of the love story–all often set me on edge, but then there is the graphic and complex setting of the Spanish Civil War and the movements of our hero with the Spanish guerillas that redeem the novel. It’s an “edgy” novel and that’s what I begin to think of while I’m reading MC.

      And I think that you are getting right TO the “edginess” when you talk of Tom Pinch being the touchstone by which other characters are being measured. This is pretty complex stuff that Dickens is setting forth because Pinch, at least for me, is a sympathetic character, even though he is totally blind to the horrible treatment he suffers at the hands of his boss. Yet, he is humble, very articulate, a kind of academician, sensitive, forthright, honest, and he plays the organ beautifully, so much so that he “seduces” Martin’s secret love out of hiding to listen to the music he is creating! A kind of siren call–if you will!. This is great stuff, the hidden and not so hidden talents of Tom Pinch.

      But here is where the edginess sets in, and it has to do with the reactions others have toward Pinch–Pecksniffs patronizing of his humble “servant,” Martin’s disregard for his inherent goodness, Westlock’s argument with Tom regarding the poor or non education he’s received at the hands of Pecksniff, the nasty treatment of Tom by the Pecksniff daughters which extends, by the way, even to his wonderful sister Ruth, the governess in London. Thus, in virtually every scene where Tom appears or is referred to, he is put down or put upon by various characters.

      A scene that particularly grabs me and causes great consternation happens when Pecksniff, his daughters, and Mrs. Todgers visit Ruth Pinch while she is giving lessons to her very spoiled and nasty student at the rich man’s home in London. The entire situation just drives me crazy from beginning to end. Cherry and Merry have already supposed her to look and act like her brother, that she will be ugly and not very socially adept. But in fact she is just the opposite and handles a very awkward situation quite well–or at least as well as she can. We even get an inside view of the nasty thoughts of her student while this scene plays out. God, it’s horrible! And it’s “edgy.”

      If I were filming this novel, I’d be sure to frame many shots so as to feature the awkwardness of these various sequences: off center shots, tilt shots, high angle and low angle shots, anything to demonstrate and visually force and underline the strangeness I’m feeling toward characters and their situations.

      Finally, the various “movements” that take place at Mrs. Todgers Boardinghouse are set pieces of comedy, filled with irony and hijinks. Here, again, there is an abundance of “edginess”–where character interaction although funny, sometimes just makes me wince! Pecksniff’s insufferable “courting of Mrs. Todger, the sisters’ equally demeaning sucking up to the lady of the house, and the continual comedic activities of “Bailey Junior”–all create a sense of things being off-center. Not often is there a moment in this chapter where there is peace and calm. Benjamin/Bailey/Collar is constantly keeping the awkward momentum going, as he darts in and out of the sisters’ room with comments and crazy facial expressions, deliberately drops bowls of food while at the great celebrative dinner, and makes faces and comments throughout. sometimes leaves his jobs altogether to go play with friends outside the lodging house. He’s a kind of sprite, constantly moving, constantly unsettling just about anything he can to create some form of chaos. I love him as a character because he attacks the solemnity of various occasions and adds comedy to the coarse and presumptuous behavior of Pecksniff and his stuck up daughters!

      As I’ve only read up through Chapter 10, I don’t know how long this awkward novelistic presentation will last, but I certainly do feel something throughout my reading thus far, which is constantly unsettling, unnerving–representing a kind of COMIC CHAOS!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Initimables,

    Your insights and “grapplings” with Dickens’ characters are really a perfect foretaste for me.

    I have yet to begin Chuzzlewit, but will this week.

    I’m ready for some COMIC CHAOS!!!

    Thanks for whetting my appetite!

    Daniel

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The opening of Ch 2 is, to me, one of the best scenic, atmospheric, tone-setting opening in all of Dickens. It rivals even the foggy opening of Bleak House. Here is the the “declining” autumn sun, “struggling through the mist”, brightening for a moment all it shines upon, until it goes down and the “moment, and its glory was no more”. In its place comes the “evening wind” which rattles the trees and hurries the leaves and the labourers to find shelter. The wind turns “angry”, but is bested by the bellows at the forge which “was too much for such a surly wind to bear: so off it flew with a howl” to “cuff” the sign of the Blue Dragon “clean out of his crazy frame”. On goes the wind to bully the fallen leaves into chasing their tails (if they had had them) and finding safety wherever they can, until becoming “weary of such trifling performances, the boisterous rover hurried away rejoicing, roaring over moor and meadow, hill and flat, until it got out to sea, where it met with other winds similarly disposed, and made a night of it.”

    This passage sets the tone for the novel, I think, in that we meet the characters “in their glory”, as they perceive themselves. This illumination soon fades as we begin to see each characters’ selfishness exposed. Their selfishness – like the wind – stirs up all sorts of confrontation, adventure and misadventure, misunderstanding, mischievousness, treachery and villainy. I think it also telling – and extremely funny – that the wind knocks Pecksniff on his ass at his front door, foreshadowing his comeuppance via the selfishness through which he makes his livelihood.

    I also note the way selfish acts are exposed by a kind of litotes (am I’m using this term properly?). I’m talking about the way the narrator uses negatives or overemphasis to highlight selfishness – as at the close of Ch 2 when John Westlock describes how Pecksniff gets credit via Tom Pinch or in Ch 10 when describing the behavior of the Miss Pecksniffs toward Old Martin, indeed, the Miss Pecksniffs’ behavior toward each other (Ch 2, e.g.) – was sibling rivalry ever described so perfectly? Even Mark Tapley’s jollity falls into this verbal irony. Nobody is what they appear to be – all actions are suspect. Only those with an incredibly “simple heart” (Ch 5) – like Tom Pinch – or those who have “a simplicity of cunning” (Ch 11) – like Jonas – take words and actions at face value. We readers are clearly to be in on the joke and feel the narrator using “his favorite elbow emphasis” as Jonas does with Miss Charity in Ch 11: “An’t she lively?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, I love your insights here, including how the opposing kinds of simplicity (Tom/Jonas) are so different from all the cunning and hypocrisy of the rest!

      I agree about the opening of Chapter 2 …so richly atmospheric! And when you ended with the quote about the winds “making a night of it,” I INSTANTLY thought of that marvelous sketch we read earlier this year, Making a Night of It, and how the winds are equally drunken, boisterous, roving…

      Like

  8. Hello, all! 😊

    As a newbie to the Dickens Club, despite being somewhat timid of making my first comment, I figured it might be the best course of action to just plunge in there and comment (and say hello)

    I am enjoying reading all of these wonderful comments, and in some way they help me to take this brave plunge.

    I wish I were better at organising my thoughts, but they tend to be somewhat like the leaves in the wonderful opening of chapter 2: they ‘disperse and scatter’ that they flee away, ‘pell-mell, some here, some there, rolling over each other, whirling round and round … taking frantic flights into the air, and playing all manner of extraordinary gambols!’ So I may confine myself to note like observations which are prompted by my reading of MC and by some of the comments above.

    My reading of the Dickens that I have read has not been linear, but has rather hopped about and zigzagged backwards and forwards through the canon. But having recorded audiobook versions of a few of the novels, it may be said that I have not only read them, but that I have really, really read them. Before MC, I have only read OT and NN, and after, The Christmas Books, DC, HT, TOTC and GE (which I am currently revisiting as an audiobook duet)

    So, as a newbie also to Martin Chuzzlewit (which I am absolutely loving so far – hope I can keep up… Yikes!) I just wanted to offer a response to what Rach said about young Martin not being particularly likeable.
    We do not meet him until we have had a chance to meet most of the members of his extended family – with the explanation that:

    ‘ as no one branch of the Chuzzlewit tree had ever been known to agree with another within the memory of man, there was such a skirmishing, and flouting, and snapping off of heads, in the metaphorical sense of that expression; such a bandying of words and calling of names; such an upturning of noses and wrinkling of brows; such a formal interment of good feelings and violent resurrection of ancient grievances; as had never been known in those quiet parts since the earliest record of their civilized existence.’

    Therefore it is no real surprise that young Martin shows traits of his family pedigree… the apple they say does not fall far from the tree, and what a tree he has fallen from.
    I suppose I am expecting an improvement in him (being at this point unaware of the proceedings beyond chapter 12)

    Some of the characteristics of Tom Pinch, most notably his willingness to see the good in people in spite of persuasions offered to the contrary, and in spite also of poor treatment of him by those same people, very much remind me of other Toms in other novels (my mind looks for strange quirks like this as a matter of course, I think!)
    Tom Chitling in Oliver Twist, Tommy Traddles in David Copperfield and Tom Gradgrind Jr in Hard Times.

    I wonder, did Dickens know someone in his own life called Tom who is the template for these other Toms?

    Anyway, enough from me for now. Hopefully this will rid me of my commenting fear.

    Much to enjoy so far in this novel. My favourite aspect so far is in the many ways in which the ‘virtues’ of the Pecksniffs are presented. The following passage delighted and tickled me greatly 😊

    ‘And, oh, the two Miss Pecksniffs! Oh, the serene expression on the face of Charity, which seemed to say, ‘I know that all my family have injured me beyond the possibility of reparation, but I forgive them, for it is my duty so to do!’ And, oh, the gay simplicity of Mercy; so charming, innocent, and infant-like, that if she had gone out walking by herself, and it had been a little earlier in the season, the robin-redbreasts might have covered her with leaves against her will, believing her to be one of the sweet children in the wood, come out of it, and issuing forth once more to look for blackberries in the young freshness of her heart! What words can paint the Pecksniffs in that trying hour? Oh, none; for words have naughty company among them, and the Pecksniffs were all goodness.’

    Liked by 2 people

      1. All those Tom’s, eh?! I have been considering it since I posted, and it occurs to me that the elder Thomas Gradgrind is also somewhat taken-in, both by Bounderby and by his belief in his ‘system’… so there’s that too

        I suppose this all comes from a habit of mine, when preparing for an audio recording, to look for similarities to characters I have portrayed before. I certainly recycle elements of characters as I believe I only have a finite number of vocal characterisations which I am able to perform

        Thus, you may find remarkable similarities between my portrayals of Mr Bumble and others of the same ilk (in my mind at least) : Josiah Bounderby in Hard Times, Stryver in A Tale of Two Cities and Jaggers in Great Expectations. Bumble was first and he became a loose template on which to construct these others 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just LOVE the correspondences between these Bounderby-like characters! Characters who seem to be, to paraphrase that about Stryver, “always too big for any place or space” 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Exactly so 🙂 The description of Bounderby as a ‘type’ is glorious:

        A big, loud man, with a stare, and a metallic laugh. A man made out of a coarse material, which seemed to have been stretched to make so much of him. A man with a great puffed head and forehead, swelled veins in his temples, and such a strained skin to his face that it seemed to hold his eyes open, and lift his eyebrows up. A man with a pervading appearance on him of being inflated like a balloon, and ready to start. A man who could never sufficiently vaunt himself a self-made man. A man who was always proclaiming, through that brassy speaking-trumpet of a voice of his, his old ignorance and his old poverty. A man who was the Bully of humility.

        A year or two younger than his eminently practical friend, Mr. Bounderby looked older; his seven or eight and forty might have had the seven or eight added to it again, without surprising anybody. He had not much hair. One might have fancied he had talked it off; and that what was left, all standing up in disorder, was in that condition from being constantly blown about by his windy boastfulness.

        Descriptions like these really help when it comes to trying to create the character 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Rob, welcome to the “Inimitables” of the Dickens Chronological Reading Book Club!

    Your “voice” is such a wonderful addition, especially in view of your experience as an actor and book reader.

    I’m eager to find your recordings. Do you mind pointing me in the right direction?

    Yes, this little community of Dickens fanatics illuminates so much through careful reading and conversation.

    So glad you have joined in the conversation. Your comments are astute and rich.

    Daniel

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh Absolutely!!!!!!! Please Share!!! I really want to post a little write -up as I finish the Online Stage’s David Copperfield, but perhaps more immediately…the Christmas Books, when they become available! (I can’t wait 😍)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Funny you should mention both these two! 😀 The Christmas Books are being uploaded to the publisher as I type (hopefully there will not be too long a delay before they appear on Audible… there does seem to be quite a backlog at the moment!)

        And David Copperfield! The wonderful David Copperfield!

        As you know, I am currently ears-deep in Great Expectations. So, on encountering Bailey in MC, I knew he reminded me of someone I had met before… the first candidate that sprung to mind was that ‘unlimited miscreant,’ Trabb’s boy from GE!

        But I think perhaps it is DC that, as it oftentimes does, hold the key:

        Compare from MC on Bailey:

        … and sounds were occasionally heard, indicative of small articles of iron mongery and hardware being thrown at the boy.

        with the unfortunate page from DC (Ch 48 – Domestic)

        The principal function of this retainer was to quarrel with the cook…
        He appears to me to have lived in a hail of saucepan-lids. His whole existence was a scuffle. He would shriek for help on the most improper occasions,—as when we had a little dinner-party, or a few friends in the evening,—and would come tumbling out of the kitchen, with iron missiles flying after him.

        like my theory with the Toms, I have a feeling that Bailey and this page are based on someone that CD had met in his life and who would appear from time to time in all his mishievous glory 😀

        Like

  10. Welcome Rob! Looking forward to listening to your readings and your comments.

    Repetition in Dickens is everywhere – characters, settings, situations, etc – but somehow he makes each repetition unique and memorable. Whiffs, if you will, of others that came before or after, yet with a flavor all their own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly 🙂

      Love this!! I shall be keeping my senses alive to whiffs and flavours as I progress through the reading 😀

      Like

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