American Notes

by Charles Dickens

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The Most Scandalous Yet Honest Travelogue About The North-American Region By Charles Dickens. Download American Notes, READ online FREE or buy:

Charles Dickens was a big fan of traveling and visiting remote places to get an inspiration for his new novels and stories. As a result, he wrote several travelogues, and this is one of the most popular ones. He took a trip to the United States back in 1842 (during the January-June period, to be exact).

Upon arrival, he immediately started to act as if he was a journalist reporting back to his journal. His critical observations of the locals, the society they’ve created, and their rules, made up what we know today as the American Notes. In his other travel notes, Dickens wasn’t so “harsh” and just shared his experiences in the various countries that he’s been to (Italy, for example).

It’s no secret that the writer’s “expedition” to the US was a huge inspiration for one of his most controversial novels – Martin Chuzzlewit. At first, the story was to take place in England. However, Dickens later decided to take the action to the North-American continent and turned it into something of a main character with its flaws and virtues.

Inspiration And Motivation For Charles Dickens

During his time in NA, the master traveled to some of its furthest corners and was in Quebec, Richmond, and other noticeable places. Boston was his favorite city and he praised it for being clean, bright, and nice to foreigners.

He described it as a beautiful, uplifting city that was capable of exciting even the gloomiest individuals. While on his trip, Dickens met Laura Bridgman, a woman of incredible courage and resilience. She was the 1st deaf-blind child in North America who learned English without her sight and ears.

The writer was mesmerized by this woman and dedicated many pages of the American Notes to her personality. He later said that it was people like her that made him leave England and travel all the way up to the other side of the world. And, even though he largely criticized pretty much everything about the country, he had only praise for Laura.

Setting Sails For America For The First Time

Dickens sailed from Liverpool to the American continent in January 3rd, along with his dear wife and Anne, their maid. He turned thirty in the US, by the way. At first, the endless attention from the fans was very pleasing for the writer, but pretty soon what started as a wonderful leisure time for him turned into a torment of sorts.

He wrote to Foster, a dear friend of his, that because of his popularity, he couldn’t leave the house and go anywhere he pleased because the crowd would be quick to follow him. Most of the time, Dickens traveled on the East Coast of the NA (including the US and Canada).

Not The Country Dickens Was Hoping For

While on this trip, he visited numerous mental institutions and prisons. So, what did the famed English writer criticize the most? The horrifying sanitary conditions of the majority of the cities/towns and the local press.

Furthermore, he really liked to write parodies of the customs and the traditions of the locals. When he first saw people spitting tobacco in public places, he was disgusted by it and described it to his readers as meticulously as possible.

At the same time, he spoke highly of the President of the States, Tyler. Overall, Dickens was pleased and impressed. However, he was the biggest critic of slavery in America. The finishing chapters of these notes are fully dedicated to criticizing this inhumane practice.

Dickens As The Biggest Critic Of The US Of A

Issues with trademarks and copyright also bothered the writer, and as a result, his novels and stories were available in the US and Canada without his permission. Dickens was one of those people that hated losing money and spent a lot of time talking about the importance of copyright law while in the region.

He spoke about it on literally every corner, and that is why many critics claimed that he traveled to America to push his ideas about the issue. There might be some truth to it, but that still doesn’t make these Notes any less entertaining or educational.

Despite the popular belief, Dickens never despised the Americans – he actually praised them for their numerous virtues. And, he was also captivated by some details about their way of living. At the same time, he wasn’t afraid to talk about their vices and faults.

Summing Up

In the conclusion to the novel, he called slavery one of the biggest sins that the world was fighting while America refused to cut ties with it. Both black and white folks were still slaves in the NA region, and Dickens was terrified by the physical abuse. Violence in the country was another huge issue, according to the writer.

Finally, distrust, constant lies and people that are only looking for personal gain were also a big part of Dickens’s criticism. But, apart from that, he was impressed and even inspired by America and its people.



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