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American Notes for General Circulation Paperback – November 15, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1456569457 ISBN-10: 1456569457

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1456569457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456569457
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,712,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and slave factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney s clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.

Patricia Ingham is senior research fellow and reader at St. Anne's College, Oxford. She is the general editor of Thomas Hardy's fiction in Penguin Classics and edited Gaskell's North and South for the series.


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Customer Reviews

It's as if he was concerned about giving too much offense.
Adam Lampe
I much prefer Dickens' more famous works, as this one is like his personal diary, but with not much in the way of interesting, personal tidbits.
He travelled from Liverpool to Boston, and then visited places like New York, Washington, St.Louis, the Great Lakes, and Canada.
H. Schneider

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By kennedy19 on March 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1842, the young Dickens made a sweeping tour of the United States and Canada, visiting Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Pittsburg, Cincinatti, St. Louis, Niagra Falls, Montreal, and Quebec among other places. (He chose not to venture to the south, out of a repugnance for slavery.) This brief account of his travels begins with optimism and the usual Dickens eye for the comic. As it goes on, we begin to sense the weariness of the journey and the author's disappointment with what he found. We get a vivid picture of a nation still being built, quite literally in the case of frontier places. The fine introduction to the Penguin edition places this work in the context of English travel narratives of the time. This edition is also well footnoted and contains a sampling of letters Dickens wrote to friends at home, in which he is quite candid. Modern readers may find fascinating glimpses of American life at the time (such as the disgusting habit of spitting and the nastiness of the press), but may be less interested than the author was in prisons, courts, and other public institutions. Furthermore, some places are passed over cursorily, but this is to keep the journey moving along. (My favorite parts are the anecdotes about individual characters that Dickens meets while travelling.) As the introduction suggests, this book is as much about Dickens and his personal evolution as it is about America, despite the fact that Dickens does not speak extensively of the inconveniences he faced due to his fame. The trip was to inspire parts of "Martin Chuzzlewit" and must be taken in the context of Dickens' career - some of the views herein were moderated by a second trip to America later in life.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Someone please pick up this book! I've already mentioned it to two of my English professor who knew almost nothing about what I consider a true classic. Just because there is no movie to accompany it does not mean it should'nt be read for fear of confusing a public accustomed to Dickens' supposed "classics". Please take the time to open one of my favorite books. I am sure it will surprise and delight you. Remember, a "classic" is what we make of it!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gianmarco Manzione on November 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I must regretfully confess that this book, so promising in its circumstances, amounts to a profound bore. The opportunity to see a distinct American epoch through the eyes of a Charles Dickens is one that I lusted after. Yet, as Goldman and Whitley's introduction to the Penguin edition rightly observes, the book is "extremely disappointing in its omissions and pervasive flatness." That "flatness" ought to have concerned me upon first reading the title. "American Notes for General Circulation" is hardly an inviting description of what's inside. Not one to judge a book by its cover, though, I dismissed this minor oversight and dove in. However, while Whitley and Goldman go on to suggest that "American Notes" is somehow "fascinating as a record of the ways in which the foremost creative writer of his day responded to the most exciting social experiment of his time," that "fascination" is merely superficial and fails to last beyond the book's mildly humorous opening scenes of a sea journey to Boston.

The book's problems are its redundancy and timidity. Dickens seems to be exclusively interested in reporting on every hospital and prison in America, which he does for at least the first third of the book. While some of his descriptions and observations in this portion of the narrative reveal the character of one of literary history's most compassionate figures, this too grows stale as Dickens fails to overcome his peculiar infatuation and look beyond.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on October 26, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
There's a tradition in British literature of the travel writer. He doesn't write books in the sense of a travelogue: instead he travels somewhere, and either he writes while he's traveling, or after, about his travels, what he sees, who he meets, and so forth. He usually has some comments on the society he has visited, and the book usually has a faint air of comedy to it.

American Notes is such a book, written by Charles Dickens, of Oliver Twist fame. Dickens traveled to the States in 1842, visiting Boston, New York City, St. Louis, and parts of Canada, and observing various things about our society. He appears to have been very interested in various public institutions, so much of the book is devoted to prisons, orphanages, and institutions that house those with serious disabilities, such as a girl who's blind, deaf, and dumb all at once.

The author is repulsed by the institution of slavery (can't say I blame him, but it wasn't that common a reaction in the 19th century) and so while he initially intended to travel as far south as Charleston, South Carolina, in point of fact he only makes it as far as Richmond, Virginia. He visits the high points in Washington D.C., actually gets to meet the President, and wanders the country, even at one point venturing out to see a "prairie". He travels on various conveyances, mostly railroads, wagons, and riverboats, stays in various hotels, and takes his meals in various places. Apparently his wife was his traveling companion, and at one point he mentions his wife having brought a maid with him (the rich were *very* different in those days) but he says little about either, instead focusing on the people they meet.

I consider this to have been an interesting book, if a bit over-written at times.
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