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American Notes for General Circulation Paperback – November 15, 2013
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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.</div>
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
He and his wife Catherine Hogarth Dickens would journey to the land of their Yankee cousins for six months. This long journey resulted in a short account of the famed novelist's time in the United States.
The passage from Liverpool took 18 days with storms and heavy rain to propel the Britishers forward to the land of the free and home of the brave! Dickens visited several cities. He had good and bad things to say about America. Dickens:
a. Visited Boston and New York insane asylums and homes for the indigent.
He also visited prisons. Dickens was a liberal social reformer and thought the treatment of the insane could be improved. He did not think much of American penology believing the prisoners should be worked harder.
b. From the East the Dickens party traveled West. They passed through Louisville, Cincinnati and Sandusky. Dickens complained about pigs in the streets of these burgeoning cities. He thought Americans bold and brassy with an inordinate patriotism manifestly condescending to foreigners.
c. Dickens traveled to St.Louis complaining of the isolated life found in log cabins and the hot temperatures of North America.
d. Dickens disliked the partisan American press; he thought Americans were ruled by mobocracy and often used guns and fisticuffs when they were not necessary!
e. The travel in stage and by train was difficult in this era in the new American nation. Dickens often comments on how miserable he was!
f. Dickens saves his greatest wrath for the abominable practice of chattel slavery in the American South.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Because Dickens is a foreigner, he notices things that an American traveler might not comment on. I feel like the things he notices are the things that would stand out to me were I... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Dickens captures the essence of what traveling was like in 19th century America. Interestingly, we have conquered most of the problems he mentions (slavery, poor roads and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Karmann Guya
I liked it on a couple of levels.
First off, it tells us about Mr. Dickens. I read this as notes he might have someday used for an unwritten book. Read more
I enjoyed this written image of our history. It felt alive and genuine, great descriptions of yesterday, simply fresh and human.Published 20 months ago by Earnest Smith
I've heard it called horrible and a masterpiece. I think it's just okay. Interesting to get Dickens' perspective on America, but it just becomes a rambling monotonous text of his... Read morePublished on October 31, 2013 by Sanders
Wanted to see what Dickens had to say about early America and the modes of travel prevalent in the day. Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by Ramblin' Reader
I can see why Dickens' American travelogue somewhat lessened his popularity in the US for a while. He does have nice things to say about individual Americans; he offers a fairly... Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by Joel E. Mitchell