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DICKENS COMPANIONS
Volume Eight The Companion to Martin Chuzzlewit
by Nancy Aycock Metz

978-1-873403-84-6, Helm, 2001, ú55.00 [Purchase Online]

Critical responses to Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–44) have varied. His sixth novel has been recognised as Dickens’s first mature work and as an achievement of less certain status. By examining the overlapping contexts within which Dickens wrote, The Companion to ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ makes original contributions to our understanding of Martin Chuzzlewit and its critical reception.
   The notes revise and expand the conventional wisdom regarding the sources for the American chapters, demonstrating that Dickens drew on a much wider field of writings about America than has been traditionally acknowledged. A more complete context provides insight into Dickens's composing process, allows us to read more accurately the ideological ground on which he constructed his view of America, and sheds light on the plot anomalies surrounding young Martin's emigration.

Martin Chuzzlewit

   The notes show how in fictionalising his own firsthand experiences, Dickens simultaneously engaged in a quite specific process of revising other travel accounts. Dickens, the rhetorician, emerges as his characters engage the claims and counterclaims of other travel writers in order to make the best case for the novelist’s increasingly negative and cynical view of America
   By reading Martin Chuzzlewit in the light of contemporary professional journals, Nancy Aycock Metz also exposes in a more finely nuanced way issues of that period which underlay Dickens's portrayal of Pecksniff, young Martin and the architectural scene. In particular, Martin’s helplessness and escapism, his na´ve reliance on winning a prize or making his fortune against all odds are shown to be not merely personal failings but professional pitfalls particularly affecting young architects.

Finally, the notes point to previously unidentified influences on the plot and characters of Martin Chuzzlewit. They also illuminate the impact on Dickens's thinking of a wide range of texts, from the Bridgewater Treatises to the Bible, from popular songs and newspaper advertisements to medical treatises and parliamentary reports.

Dr. Nancy Metz has written articles on Dickens, Trollope, and Victorian urban culture. She is an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech.

The Dickens Companions provide the most comprehensive annotation of the works of Dickens ever undertaken. The factual annotation supplies information on the historical, literary and topical allusions which inform Dickens's works, thus establishing sound foundations for further critical enquiry. For the scholar, they are invaluable research and reference tools. For the student and serious general reader, they are the essential authority on Dickens's novels.

Susan Shatto and Michael Cotsell established The Dickens Companions Series in 1986 and jointly edited volumes 1-5. David Paroissien replaced Michael Cotsell when he retired from the series as Associate Editor in 1997 and has served since then with Susan Shatto as co-editor for volumes 6-8.

About Volume 8: The Companion to ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, by Nancy Aycock Metz The latest in this admirable series of Companions to Dickens’s works maintains the high standards of its precursors and immediately becomes an indispensable guide to one of Dickens’s funniest novels. Nancy Aycock Metz shows, beneath its exuberant fašade, how deeply Martin Chuzzlewit is engaged with contemporary political, social and historical debate, in particular with "the socially constructed nature of personality and behaviour", and how significant are its allusions to Rousseau and Paley, and to the wild children and orang-utangs that inhabited and tested the boundaries of human nature.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the pages annotating Martin’s American adventures, which bring out both Dickens’s disappointment—"This is not the Republic of my imagination", he exclaimed— and his very different treatment of the two countries of the novel. America is the "compressed, highly allusive" vision of the future, which contrasts with a rural, nostalgic England, portrayed in leisurely and discursive prose: the characters travel by train in America and by coach in England. Dickens, argues Metz, was responding to a familiar conception of American life; at times, the dialogues between his characters act "as a form of conversation with other travel writers". It is striking how the aspects of the United States that most horrified Dickens and his contemporaries, in particular violence and unregulated entrepreneurship, are still at the centre of debate today.

Metz makes good use of contemporary architectural journals such as the Builder and the Architectural Magazine to show that Mr Pecksniff’s shabby practices were far from unique, but she is also aware how much Dickens transformed the material he used, and how agile he was at turning the typical into the mythical. Nothing we learn about the state of the nursing and architecture professions in the 1840s could prepare us for the extraordinary linguistic creativity of Mrs Gamp for the sublime hypocrisy of Pecksniff. But if you wish to know how to mend a pen, the cost of funerals in the period or what a ring-tailed roarer was, this is the place to look. Only Montague Tigg’s celebrated conundrum, "When is a man in jail like a man out of jail?", remains unidentified. John Bowen, TLS, 8 March 2002.

The latest in this admirable series of Companions to Dickens’s works maintains the high standards of its precursors and immediately becomes an indispensable guide to one of Dickens’s funniest novels. Nancy Aycock Metz shows, beneath its exuberant fašade, how deeply Martin Chuzzlewit is engaged with contemporary political, social and historical debate, in particular with "the socially constructed nature of personality and behaviour", and how significant are its allusions to Rousseau and Paley, and to the wild children and orang-utangs that inhabited and tested the boundaries of human nature.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the pages annotating Martin’s American adventures, which bring out both Dickens’s disappointment—"This is not the Republic of my imagination", he exclaimed— and his very different treatment of the two countries of the novel. America is the "compressed, highly allusive" vision of the future, which contrasts with a rural, nostalgic England, portrayed in leisurely and discursive prose: the characters travel by train in America and by coach in England. Dickens, argues Metz, was responding to a familiar conception of American life; at times, the dialogues between his characters act "as a form of conversation with other travel writers". It is striking how the aspects of the United States that most horrified Dickens and his contemporaries, in particular violence and unregulated entrepreneurship, are still at the centre of debate today.

Metz makes good use of contemporary architectural journals such as the Builder and the Architectural Magazine to show that Mr Pecksniff’s shabby practices were far from unique, but she is also aware how much Dickens transformed the material he used, and how agile he was at turning the typical into the mythical. Nothing we learn about the state of the nursing and architecture professions in the 1840s could prepare us for the extraordinary linguistic creativity of Mrs Gamp for the sublime hypocrisy of Pecksniff. But if you wish to know how to mend a pen, the cost of funerals in the period or what a ring-tailed roarer was, this is the place to look. Only Montague Tigg’s celebrated conundrum, "When is a man in jail like a man out of jail?", remains unidentified. John Bowen, TLS, 8 March 2002.

In his famous essay, "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture," Clifford Geertz describes what "doing ethnography" is like: "trying to read (in the sense of ‘construct a reading of’) a manuscript — foreign, faded, full of ellipses, incoherencies, suspicious emendations, and tendentious commentaries, but written not in conventionalized graphs of sound but in transient examples of shaped behavior." Nancy Aycock Metz’s marvellously rich Companion to Martin Chuzzlewit may best be understood as a kind of ethnographic reading of the novel: one which interprets Dickens’s words in relation to the culture that shaped them, and which originally gave them meaning. This compendious work, like its predecessors in the Companion series, elucidates all kinds of social, literary, and culinary obscurities through referencing a very wide range of sources, and in doing so, gives a solid materiality to the world imaginatively plotted and vivified by the novelist himself.

In her helpful introduction, Metz alerts us to some of the main themes that emerge in this volume, and, of course, in the novel itself. She draws attention to the political and intellectual engagement which runs throughout this sustained attack on moral and social complacency of various types, demonstrating how Dickens maintains a consistent antagonism towards those religious, economic, and political voices which express contentment with the status quo, whether the identifiable targets be Paley’s Natural Theology; the Bridgewater Treatises, or the Manchester school of economics. She expounds very usefully on the novel’s architectural allusions, and on the controversies surrounding the practice of architecture in the 1830s and the early 1840s, particularly in relation to its status as a profession, and she shows both how anxieties concerning cultural values are inscribed in contemporary building design, and also how Pecksniff is satirized not just in his own right, but as an example of the architect’s role as an agent of upward mobility (the notes are especially illuminating, in this respect, on Dickens’s incorporation of the language of contemporary advertising). Whilst Dickens’s darkening view of the democratic experiment represented by the United States has long been recognized, and Martin Chuzzlewit related not just to his account of his own experiences in American Notes, but to the travels of Frances Trollope and Captain Marryat as well, Metz indicates quite how extensive was Dickens’s familiarity with the literature about the country: from the accounts of other travellers to manuals for emigrants; from guidebooks to Buffon’s view of the north west as a false paradise. She provides the material to support her view that "in many instances Dickens constructs dialogue between characters implicitly and invisibly as a form of conversation with other travel writers" (4), and it is particularly worthy of note that one of the writers with which he seemed familiar was Tocqueville, which adds a new continental dimension to our understanding of Dickens’s thinking on political issues.

Many other points of reference are brought from obscurity to visibility by this work. As one would expect, Metz fully tracks down and elucidates literary allusions, from sentimental songs to Shakespeare, by way of the Bible (including Mrs Gamp’s wildly garbled references), classical mythology, and the Thousand and One Nights. She explains the resonances of proverbial expressions and inn signs, and of such contemporary phenomena as Peter the Wild Boy and Sweeney Todd. Exactly what Mrs G’s "nameless offices about the persons of the dead" might have comprised are explained, and the economic, and hence social resonances of various types of obsequies - from the poorest "walking funeral" to old Anthony’s extravagant send-off – are elaborated upon. Both English and American topographic references are clarified, and the volume includes a helpful map of Martin Chuzzlewit’s London (although maps of southern England and the United States - with approximate routes - might have been appropriate, too). Metz knows her early Victorian London with some precision: the oranges that one could smell near Todgers’ are located quite specifically in Monument Yard, and exactly what was visible in that famous view from the lodging house is made clear. In this extraordinary restless novel, in which the physical place-shifting of the protagonists acts metonymically for broader forms of social mobility in the 1840s, details of characters’ means of travel point to their status, their incomes, their financial prudence or good fortune.

When it comes to the minutiae of culture, this Companion is particularly strong in two respects: clothing (whether noting the fashion for gauzy scarves worn over evening dresses, or the economics involved in wearing a false shirt front) and appearance, and food. Facial hair proves to be an especially telling signifier. To sport a shaggy moustache, as Tigg does, is to give oneself away as a flamboyant character of dubious social status. Dyed whiskers marked out their owners as conspicuously vulgar. Dickens, and his characters, slide between sectors of society where etiquette matters very much indeed, and others where it does not. Whereas on one side of the Atlantic, spitting is presented as being very much de rigueur, back in an English context, Mrs Beeton is referred to when it comes to determining the best way to serve cheese and celery at the end of a meal. She provides a useful source, too, for information about the preparation of pickled salmon, or potted meat. Nor are British comestibles the only ones that need explanation. American rum-toddy, mint-juleps, gin-slings, and cocktail cobblers are all carefully described: less familiar today is the information that the vast quantities of champagne drunk in the United States were synonymous with radicalism, fast living, and democracy. One learns how to make Indian mush bread, or - in London again - that oysters were commonly eaten raw at breakfast for their alleged restorative properties. Invalid sustenance forms an interesting sub-category, whether in the form of apple-tea, or mutton broth, or caudle: an appealing sounding concoction of oatmeal or flour, flavored with white wine, lemon peel, nutmeg, and sweetened to taste. The reverse side of this particular coin is the detailed information given for the availability of certain poisons. Of course, recipes can be idiosyncratic. Dickens – as Metz reminds us – found himself enmeshed in a light-hearted controversy about whether or not suet formed a mandatory part of a beefsteak pie’s crust: so one might take issue with the description of bubble-and-squeak (365) as meat and cabbages fried up together. Many would regard the essential components as cabbage and potatoes, with meat as an optional extra. In general, however, there is remarkably little to query in the detail of this Companion, although that one might note that George Catlin’s exhibition of Indian artefacts ran at the Egyptian Hall in London for three years, not one month, as suggested on p. 197, and that Catlin himself spelt his name with only one "i."

Compelling though the Companion is, it — and its own companion volumes — raises the problematic question of its own audience. Who might best consult this? The ordinary reader, captured by Dickens’s story-telling powers, finds it disruptive enough to break off and consult even the notes in a Penguin or a World’s Classics volume — and these appear perfunctory by the side of such a volume as this. To read Metz’s volume in tandem with Dickens induces a radical bifurcation of one’s attention between actual and novelistic worlds, certainly deepening one’s understanding of the culture in which the invented characters move and have their being, but not, perhaps, much furthering one’s engagement with the strategies of fictional rhetoric. On the other hand, one learns a good deal about Dickens’s practices as a novelist. In particular, although we are given a sense of a densely knowable set of environments, it becomes clear that we are dealing with something more complex than a minutely accurate record of a historical period. The English episodes of the novel, Metz carefully demonstrates, are set in the early to mid 1830s. But the American scenes seem to be set in the late 1830s or even the early 1840s. This allows for a contrast to be drawn between the two countries, the modernity of the New World set against the rural environment in which the novel opens, the difference between the two figured through forms of transport. Whilst England is still the land of the stagecoach, Americans travel by railroad and by the potentially explosive means of the steamboat. On occasion the time scheme tilts even further, to ensure that the reader of 1843–44 is made to feel that their own immediate time is the one referred to: thus the reference to Tom Thumb, the diminutive boy who toured England in 1844-6, or the way in which, writing about the stone-laying ceremony in Chapter 35, Dickens closely borrows from the account of Prince Albert’s laying the first stone of the New Royal Exchange in 1842 (and hence, of course, conniving in Pecksniff’s own grandiosity).

So far as most of the factual information goes, however, the ideal reader is not, in all probability a Dickensian with the mindset of an unreformed Gradgrind. Indeed, such a reader may not be a Dickensian at all, but, rather, someone engaged in examining the ways in which the Victorian novel may be used to open up issues in material culture, and how attention to material culture, and, in particular, to the objects that one takes more or less for granted in everyday life (or, for that matter, when reading fiction), renders visible various concealed lines of commercial and social connections. In such contexts, involving trade and fashion, the distinction between a domestic silver watch, for example, and an imported Swiss one tells us not just about the personal choices and the economic status of their owners, but points to the ways in which the middle-class culture of consumption was becoming increasingly global. Similarly, the detail that Pecksniff’s lamp burned expensive whale oil, the details given of the origins of India rubber, the fact that the best shaving soap was made by German entrepreneurs from coconut oil exported from Polynesia and Samoa — these, and countless other examples, all serve to show that the contrast between Home and Abroad, made so loudly in relation to England and the United States, was, in practical and economic respects, hardly an absolute one. The comprehensive index to the volume will be a boon to the scholar whose starting point is the thing, rather than the text.

And yet, such a reader is bound to be returned to an appreciation of Dickens’s deep understanding of the means by which members of a society consciously project particular images of themselves, read and assess the performative aspects of the appearance and behavior of others, and less deliberately exhibit those characteristics into which observers can trace broader cultural and economic tendencies. Moreover, his own habits of fiction making, involving satirically motivated exaggeration, a fine eye for the human capacity to take the self far too seriously, and deliberate practices of juxtaposition and selection, exploit the symbolic potential of the material world to the full. Whilst Martin Chuzzlewit, like Dickens’s other novels, may be mined for the information it yields up about its contemporary culture — and Metz’s volume makes one aware of possibilities, in this respect, that one could not have suspected without her exacting research — it remains, in the end, a testimony to the imaginative powers of transformation which are brought to bear as Dickens’s own ethnographic observation becomes densely allusive fiction. The lovingly packed density of much of Dickens’s prose is readily recognized: the power of this volume is to unpack more resonances within it than an early twenty-first century reader could possibly hope to recognize, bringing the foreign and faded vividly to life. Kate Flint, Dickens Quarterly, Summer 2002

Readers of my generation derived a special frisson of excitement when reading the writings of Mary McCarthy. It was not just that (for example) "The Man in the Brooks Brothers Suit" was reputed to be Edmund Wilson—though that was a start—but that Mary McCarthy studded her fiction with inside references, like a ham with cloves. We were flattered by sly mentions of Nedick’s or the Automat or to Jimmy Ryan’s or Finchley’s, Fifth Avenue, and her stories shimmered with the vitality of our own memories.

1843 readers of Martin Chuzzlewit must have experienced recognitions of a similar sort available to sets of insiders. There would be those who read American travel books or who remembered the joke ancestries in Fielding or who had seen Grimaldi, the famed clown. Dickens had recently left behind the historical landscapes of his Barnaby Rudge, a comparatively unpopular novel, and now he could lard his new work with references to the hard, specific world of the present and immediate past and call on his readers’ memories of popular poets like Byron and Moore and playwrights like Shakespeare. And since he was writing satirically about hypocrisy, he could allude frequently to contrasting and often covert quotations from the Bible or The Book of Common Prayer.

But these are only the beginning. Martin Chuzzlewit is soaked in details of contemporary life and activities, a world that is quickly retreating from us. Present readers of the novel seeking a fuller grasp of that world—and understanding of the novel—cannot do better than consult Nancy Aycock Metz’s The Companion to Martin Chuzzlewit recently published in a handsome, wonderfully detailed volume. Eighth in the scholarly series now edited by Susan Shatto and David Paroissien, it is a fit successor to a series that has met with wide, deserved praise.

What does one find in Metz? First of all, the immediacy of the Chuzzlewit world is clarified in its detail. Metz notes its frequent references to carriages and coaches, costume and appearance, food and drink, and the lives of women. We learn how much it is steeped in the world of business—undertaking, money lending, insurance schemes, newspapers, and travel. No aspect of that world appears to escape her: the courts, the law, property rights, the medical and architectural professions, clothing, diet, transportation, marketing, public lighting, the treatment of convulsive fits (266-67), and the market price for cadavers in good condition. (276)

For modern readers of Chuzzlewit the allusiveness can be a particular problem. Its first chapter, "Concerning the Pedigree of the Chuzzlewit Family," is its most labored and thorny. Thus it requires the fullest annotation. Metz does not scant her duty here. Six pages of text (in the Clarendon edition) merit no fewer than ten pages of notes and one full-page illustration of the "Oran-Outang, Or, Wild Man of the Woods." An inquisitive reader who would like to clear away such teaser references as the ones to Monboddo and Blumenbach (even if (s)he does happen to know what "Duke Humphrey" means), or who wonders more generally what Dickens was doing in constructing a mock genealogy for the Chuzzlewits will find all answers conveniently set out by her.

Dickensians of every stripe will find new information here. What is the "oil-cake" to which the narrator compares "the thick crust upon the [London] pavement? (It is "the marc or refuse after oil is pressed from flax-seed, or arape-seed, coconut pulp etc.") And the "floor-cloths" that covered the dining room at Todgers’s? (Introduced in 1790, it was "a forerunner of linoleum... a seamless painted canvas made of hemp thread and produced in a variety of patterns.") And what are "Dutch drops"? No, they are not the traps in Dutch scaffolds but "an aromatic medicinal preparation applied externally to heal wounds. The ingredients were oil of turpentine, tincture of guaiacum, nitric ether, succinic acid and oil of cloves." (336)

Members of the Dickens Forum may recall that in 1993 Nancy Metz sent us the first of a dozen or so queries and quotations, asking for comment and possible sources or clarification. It is instructive to see what became of some of these inquiries. One on "the Frogs’ Hornpipe" is now a half-page entry beginning with the information that there were over twenty kinds of hornpipe and ending with the reason for the indignation of Pecksniff’s daughters when Bailey performed the dance. (163) Another, on "Jinkins’s Particular," the chalk marking on his gaiters, occasioned a long speculation by Metz which was cut down to five sober lines in the Companion. (135) One question as to where Dickens’s letters quote a line from Campbell’s "Lochiel’s Warning," neither we nor she could answer. Now with the Pilgrim letters newly on line and searchable, it was an easy matter to uncover the line "coming events cast their shadows before" in III, 551. As Metz had thought, Dickens used it to refer to Catherine’s expecting another child.

Throughout her volume Metz is relentless in searching out sources, sometimes those behind accepted definitions. When Jonas refers to his housekeeping arrangements as "Bachelor’s Hall" (165), Metz cites the OED definition and, not content with that, discovers its use in a popular comic poem. As for Tiggs’s "Anglo-Bengalee" company she first finds its contemporary analog (the West Middlesex, boasting its "Royal Charter") and then notes how the resonant name Tigg hit upon invokes the riches of the East India Company. An allusion to what happens when a person unexpectedly absents himself from his daily round prompts a reference to Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales and also to the popular anecdotes from which Hawthorne drew his story.

Chronology: It appears from the topical allusions, especially those relating to coaching, that the action of Martin Chuzzlewit belongs in the early-to-middle 1830’s while the action in America "exist[s] in a more modern time frame." Metz does not comment on the reason for the time difference, but would it not be accounted for by Dickens’s knowledge of the two countries? The earlier period in England he had lived through, and what happened in America in 1837-40 would be close to his personal experiences there. Metz also points out that some American references date up to 1843, when Dickens was writing the novel. "The New World", Metz says, "came to represent to Dickens a frightening vision of a headlong and savage future." (1)

Travel Books on America:

Metz’s principal discoveries about the novel rise from these researches. About the American segments, for example, Metz stresses that Dickens had been reading travellers’ accounts of that young nation for some time. His range extended much more widely than the well-known volumes of Mrs. Trollope, Captain Marryat and Harriet Martineau to Basil Hall and Andrew Bell. He had also read guidebooks for travelers, manuals for emigrants, and books written from an American standpoint to counter English criticism. Citations of these texts figure often in Metz’s notes and lead her to make an interesting claim. Dickens, she argues, had these authors so much in mind that "in many instances [he] constructs dialogue between characters implicitly and invisibly as a form of conversation with other travel writers." (4) (Note: Metz had advanced this claim earlier, crediting help from Jerome Meckier, in "The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit: Or, American Revised," Dickens, Europe, and the New Worlds. Ed. Anny Sadrin, 1999.)

The large subject of the relation of the American chapters in Martin Chuzzlewit to Dickens’s own travel book, American Notes, looms here. Metz does not take it up directly. We are disposed to separate the two and regard the American chapters as part of a wonderfully preposterous satire of both English and American absurdities.

While in America Dickens knew what he had at hand for such creativity, and it is that element which raises the chapters above what Chesterton called the "very damp sqib" that is American Notes. Nevertheless there is an element of the vindictive in the novel. Once on his way into some of his funniest and most original creative monstrosities, Dickens was at no pains to deal fairly with America . His is an uncompromising send-up. He wished, as the slang phrase has it, to "get some of his own back." How else are we to take Forster’s somewhat opaque statement (quoted in Metz) that the reviews of American Notes "which every mail had been bringing him from unsparing assailants beyond the Atlantic" presented "the challenge to make good his Notes"?

Further Subjects: Architecture and Emigration

In considering Pecksniff as architect and young Martin as architectural apprentice most of us have known nothing about their profession and how they relate to it. That Pecksniff was a rascal and Martin an exploited apprentice was clear. Metz’s researches into four leading architectural journals of the day "provide a fascinating glimpse into a period in which architecture was perceived as central to the spirit of the age" and some of its practitioners sharpers without scruple. Appeals to contemporary authorities show that Pecksniff’s moral shabbiness extends to his professional as well as private life, and show also that Martin’s plight "dovetails ...with contemporary controversy over abuses of architectural apprenticeships." (6)

Through Metz we are now more fully apprised of the contemporary contexts underlying young Martin’s going off to America. His decision to do so has seemed both precipitous and unconsidered and from the standpoint of the plot, as Metz says, "strained or insufficient." She clarifies some of the problems by showing how three "sometimes competing contexts" inflect the emigration scenes: Dickens’s own experiences as a model for Martin’s, the informational books available to poor would-be emigrants, and the special issues, long debated, affecting the emigration of middle-class people like professionals. Compounding the difficulties for a young architect in the European tradition was the sense, documented by Metz, that his skills were little needed in frontier America.

Bibliography and Other Apparatus

Metz’s Companion can have been written only after years of reading in and around her subject. Her "select" bibliography of approximately five hundred items apart from all relevant Dickens and a spate of articles from Household Words includes all the staples of Victorian reference (Beeton, Watts, Vezetelly, Mayhew, etc.) and a range of items unfamiliar to your reader and, I suspect, to most Dickensians. (I would like a glance at T.J. Pettigrew’s On Superstitions Connected with the History and Practice of Medicine and Surgery, 1844)

To fill out her volume, Metz provides a copy of the "Preliminaries and Number Plans" as they appear on the fascinating small blue slips of paper now bound with the novel manuscript in Victoria and Albert Museum. Also included is an appendix on American English, useful of course, but more so since Metz will not grant all the "rightness" of word usage to Dickens. She quotes, for example, Emerson’s observation that "no such conversations ever occur in this country in real life, as [Dickens] relates."

Finally, a review should mention the eighteen well-produced illustrations that enliven the text, most of them aptly chosen from the Illustrated London News. (The number and placement of the maps in thebook are jumbled in the two listings of contents.)

For whom, then, is such a companion written? Not, I would say for first readers of the novel, for those who, for example, are entranced by the glorious charm of Mrs. Gamp’s allusive misquotations, who wish to let their eyes trip along and their ears sing, who have no wish to pause to look up allusions but to enjoy the running sense of fun. Nor, I would say, for those who think of Dicken’s novels as emerging only from his brilliant imaginings and verbal fantasies. For students who wish to understand the novel as rising out of and reflecting actual times and places—all transformed of course,—for general readers who want to know their Dickens more fully, and for the simply inquisitive, Professor Metz offers her companionship and knowledge. Patrick McCarthy, UC Santa Barbara, Charles Dickens Forum DICKNS-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU

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