Thursday, February 9, 2012


Since I was in transit on Tuesday and could not join in then with O'Bservations of Charles Dickens' 200th birthday, my little tribute to him is a belated one....


'Martin Chuzzlewit'

Paul Scofield

Charles Dickens


To Be Determined
(There was an earlier adaptation of the novel with Gary Raymond in the role, broadcast in 1964. Although I'm certain this version from thirty years later had the better production values, that first one has the "bragging rights" of residency in Earth Prime-Time.)

From Wikipedia:
"The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit" (commonly known as "Martin Chuzzlewit") is a novel by Charles Dickens, considered the last of his picaresque novels. It was originally serialized between 1843–44. Dickens thought it to be his best work, but it was one of his least popular novels. Like nearly all of Dickens' novels, "Martin Chuzzlewit" was released to the public in monthly instalments. Early sales of the monthly parts were disappointing, compared to previous works, so Dickens changed the plot to send the title character to America. This allowed the author to portray the United States (which he had visited in 1842) satirically as a near wilderness with pockets of civilization filled with deceptive and self-promoting hucksters.

The main theme of the novel, according to a preface by Dickens, is selfishness, portrayed in a satirical fashion using all the members of the Chuzzlewit family. The novel is also notable for two of Dickens' great villains, Seth Pecksniff and Jonas Chuzzlewit. It is dedicated to Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, a friend of Dickens.

Old Martin Chuzzlewit, the wealthy patriarch of the Chuzzlewit family, lives in constant suspicion of the financial designs of his extended family. At the beginning of the novel he has aligned himself with Mary, an orphan, in order to have a caretaker who is not eyeing his estate. Later in the story he makes an apparent alliance with Mr. Pecksniff, who, he believes, is at least consistent in character. His true character is revealed by the end of the story.
From the source:
He was, beyond all question, very ill, and suffered exceedingly; not the less, perhaps, because he was a strong and vigorous old man, with a will of iron, and a voice of brass. But neither the apprehensions which he plainly entertained, at times, for his life, nor the great pain he underwent, influenced his resolution in the least degree. He would have no person sent for. The worse he grew, the more rigid and inflexible he became in his determination. If they sent for any person to attend him, man, woman, or child, he would leave the house directly (so he told them), though he quitted it on foot, and died upon the threshold of the door.


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