Charles Dickens's "American Records" is probably his best nonfiction book


One of the joys of our new era of electronic books, if you like books as physical objects and texts, is that you can easily download from the Internet Archive and other digital libraries a PDF copy of a century ( I'm thinking of here for anything that could direct you more than $ 250 to a book trader in New York or London) and enjoy it almost as if you had physical copies in your hands – though , alas, without the smell of the skin or the feeling of the paper. But also, fortunately, without risk you will inadvertently damage an object that years have become fragile.

My favorite edition of Charles Dickens American Notes is the edition John W. Lovell printed in New York on Vesey Street in 1883. I read this version at a university library in the East Coast in the 1970's and , finally, in one of my desktops as a PDF, even though I've also downloaded the Gutenberg project edition (which you will find as the third item listed under "Dickens, Charles" in the Gutenberg catalog), and I sent it in my Kindle, so I can read it easier in my bed. Of course, Amazon has a publication of this and every other Dickens work that can be downloaded directly from Amazon's catalog, accessible from WiFi from your Kindle.

Dickens's reputation did not culminate in his life but simply continued to build until was considered a kind of God of Literature, a giant among writers. This reputation was well established in England and America in 1842 when he made his first trip to the United States (he would return a quarter of a century later in 1867). His beautiful, young wife Catherine, whom he had married six years ago, accompanied her. Catherine Thompson Hogarth Dickens was the sympathetic daughter of an influential editor in London, George Hogarth, a fact that did nothing to hurt her husband's literary career.

Dickens was only thirty when he and Catherine boarded the RMS on January 3, 1842, a 1,200-ton-long driveway, long 207 meters, bound for Boston and Halifax. Already beneath his strip of papers, Pickwick's letters Oliver Twist (which the new Queen Victoria burned candles late at night to read, so she was busy with this poverty story so close to the palace of her in London), and Barnaby Rudge Britain moved like a snail to our standards today – it can produce about 750 horsepower with its steam engine two-cylinder coal (around the production of two large American passenger cars), moving 115 passengers and 80 crew with a maximum speed of 8.5 knots across the Atlantic. At that rate it took 12 days to cross the ocean; Dickens was sick all the time. He swore that he would never travel again with the ocean and, indeed, returned to England months later sailing. Hi-tech was not his thing, at least when he came to the sea – he was always very fond of the railways. One of the motivations for his American journey, beyond his boundless curiosity for all American things (especially the slavery that he condemns in the last chapter of American Notes ) was his concern for US piracy his works. The United States was later a nation, like China today, that did not pay much respect for intellectual property rights. Dickens's films were widely pirated here, with no paid royalties for their author. Claire Tomalin's biography in Dickens 2011 tells us that the author spent four weeks in Manhattan to legitimize American editors and publishers in the value of international copyright conventions. Using his literary fame, he was able to persuade about two dozen of fifteen literary letters from Washington, including Washington Irving, to prepare a letter to Congress in support of such a move, though he had less success in obeying press to join it. In those days, writers who reached every level of fame were considered to have benefited greatly from their literary efforts. It was considered in poor taste, even to demand a great pay.

How many times I read American Notes I'm surprised at how Dickens's eternal voice is almost as if he was writing contemporary about Harper Atlantic Monthly or . This is so different from his novels, which have a 19th century sense of sentiment reflecting his love of the 18th-century Picasso style of British fiction, which he tried to re-invent in his era, a literary style that could take an American reader, devoted to one like me, a time to get back on. Not so with his non-fixed works (of which this is just an example – Dickens wrote and breathed, not as a work, but as a form of being alive. It is unlikely that one day passes without spending time on the covers colored colored.)

Take a look at this riveting description of a visit to Niagara Falls. Though there are some grammar and punctuation stories that give her authorship in the mid-19th century, it is surprising to me how fresh this writing is. These paragraphs are taken from chapter 14 of the Lovell edition: 19659002] "We called in the city of Erie at eight o'clock in the night and we stayed there an hour. By the weight of five to six next morning we arrived in Buffalo, where we ate breakfast and were very close Great Falls to wait patiently somewhere else, we set off on the train the same morning at Niagara Morning.

"It was a miserable day: cold and crude, a dropping haze and trees in that northern region quite naked and winter. Whenever the train stopped, I heard about the roar and I constantly tired my eyes in the direction I knew Falls should be, seeing the snow rolling toward them, every moment waiting to see the spray. Within a few minutes of our ban, not before, I saw two large white clouds rising slowly and magnificently from the depths of the earth. Thats all. Over time we sat down and then for the first time I heard the powerful rush of water and felt the earth trembling under my feet.

"The bank is very steep and slippery with rain and half-melted ice. I sat down but I was at the bottom and climbed, with two British officers crossing and joining me over some rugged rocks dazzled by the spray, and damp on the skin, were at the foot of the American Falls, I could see a large stream of water that ranges from the height of a high altitude but had no idea of ​​shape or state, or anything else that is unclear. "

Can anyone do this better in a modern travel guide? Charles Dickens was the best-known writer of his time and is perhaps the most famous British writer even today. His works have always been available in print editions, and now even in interpreting electronic copies, anyone can download it at no cost.

However, I think his non-fixed work, especially the American Notes of a former British colony that he admires and sees with a kind of critical love, have never attained the popularity of Oliver Twist , David Copperfield, Tiny Tim, or Ebenezer Scrooge (has anyone ever had that gift for naming his creations?). This is a shame because they are sincerely easier for modern readers to absorb, and this book in particular tints a fascinating view of the United States just on the brink of a civil war.

Today's readers will find American Notes accessible and legible in a way that will please them. I hope this book will reach another century of widespread success. And I thank the fact that anyone who has access to the Internet can read not only the electronic text of the book but can download a PDF copy of one of the early editions, a linked text that most of us will not choose to spend some hundreds of dollars to master, and enjoy the "feel" of typography and the organization of the printed page. It is a book that is so easy to be liked: Charles Dickens wrote the literature he deserves to be as admired as his novels.