Originally serialized between 1843-1844, Dickens' story tells of Martin, the grandson of old Martin Chuzzlewit, who is rich but has become bittter due to the greed of his kin. Young Martin is initially selfish but through hard labour and the positive and cheerful influence of his servant, Tapley, becomes decent.
The novel is broken up into segments by young Martin's voyage to seek his fortune in America. This allowed the author to satirically portray the US.
Charles Dickens (1812 - 9 June 1870) is arguably the greatest novelist England ever produced.
Please note: This is a vintage recording. The audio quality may not be up to modern day standards.
Great rendition, even with its flaws
Since iTunes takes the unusual step of warning that this is a “vintage” recording, I’d like to offer an opinion.
First off, the book itself is fine, not one of Dickens' best titles, but as usual with his work, hugely atmospheric, humorous at times and always a fascinating glimpse into the past.
The recording is a digitalization of an old cassette recording, so you get announcements of the title and author at odd intervals throughout. You do hear a little rustling of paper, but I found the sound quality clear, no fuzz or scratchiness. . Another reviewer said the chapters were out of order - I did not have this problem - all rickety-boo in my download.
I was surprised that one reviewer thought the narration was over the top. I HATE being read to as if I’m a child who needs to be entertained with goofy voices, but I found this narrators rendition to be the main selling point of the book. He has a wonderful vocal range and a brilliant command of British dialect. He slides effortlessly between tones and accents and really brings this old book to life. (I’m not so sure about his American accents, but that’s probably just embarrassment)
The biggest problem with the recording is that although the narrator speaks like a classically trained actor, he bobbles words - a LOT. I couldn’t decide if he has a slight stutter or if his eyes just didn’t read as fast as his mouth spoke. He’ll do things like “pre-presently…”or “she slyl-lightly tossed her head…” The man doesn’t miss a beat with any of this, again reminding me of a fine stage actor. His stumbles bothered me enough at first that I considered getting a different recording, but I really enjoyed his characterization so much that I made myself calm down, and by a few chapters in, his bobbles just seemed like part of the text to me.
So, what we have here is an excellent flawed recording at a decent price.
I would certainly recommend it with the caveats noted.
Well read version of a rambling Dickens novel
I thoroughly enjoyed this reading of Martin Chuzzlewit, even though it is far from my favourite Dickens novel. I can see that the voice acting might be too much for people who prefer a straight narration, but I found it great entertainment as, I believe, Dickens intended.
It is a great pity that the preview is from Dickens’ sycophantic apologia for the American chapters, rather than from the story itself. The narrator put tremendous effort into creating memorable voices for each character: the exaggeratedly genteel accents of the Peksniff’s; deep, gruff tones for Sairey Gamp and Betsy Prig; and a high, nasal whine for Jefferson Brick.
The American chapters never have made sense to me. Dickens makes his political points brilliantly, as usual, but these sections sound as though they were inserted from another story and do not belong here. What do belong are the vivid descriptions of rampant criminal behaviour: murder, patricide, suicide, intellectual property theft, pyramid schemes, land fraud and domestic abuse. There is every possible temptation for the greedy, conniving Chuzzlewit- Pecksniff family.
I thought the characterizations were quite good, but the order of chapters is badly jumbled. It was only after I had listened to about 10 chapters, and I realized that the narrative was not going to start making sense, that I checked the written text and discovered this. It makes this version completely unusable, despite its other virtues. I want a refund, and iTunes should apologize to and compensate the narrator for this technical bungle.