“THE BEST OF MY STORIES”: FIRST EDITION OF MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
DICKENS, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. London: Chapman and Hall, 1844. Thick octavo, 19th-century three-quarter green calf. $1250.
First edition in book form of Dickens’ picaresque novel of “farce, melodrama, and social criticism,” with 40 full-page etchings by Hablôt Knight Browne (“Phiz”).
First issued in 20 numbers from January 1843 to July 1844, Martin Chuzzlewit reflects the disillusionment Dickens felt from a recent trip to the United States, his first American reading tour. As Fielding had sent his Tom Jones to London, Dickens “adopted the same radical expedient of sending his youthful protagonist not merely to London, but to America. The book’s picaresque technique provides him with a large canvas and plenty of opportunity for farce, melodrama, and social criticism” (Philip V. Allingham). “You know, as well as I,” Dickens told John Forster at the time of its publication, “I think Chuzzlewit in a hundred points immeasurably the best of my stories” (Ackroyd, 415). The title page vignette was printed from three nearly identical etched plates produced of the same subject (no priority established). This version has “£100” on the signpost with the “1” blurred, is signed “Phiz,” and has six studs on the trunk lid. Bound with the half title. Eckel, 71-73. Smith I:7. Gimbel A72.
Mild embrowning to text, light rubbing to extremities, mild toning to spine. An extremely good copy.