|—||Charles Dickens (Martin Chuzzlewit)|
Sarah Gamp - from Martin Chuzzlewit - is one of Charles Dickens’s best grotesques and is the fourteenth in the Telegraph pick of the best Charles Dickens characters.
[A Christmas Carol] was written in the autumn of 1843, during the hungry 40s, a prolonged period of depression and unemployment. Dickens was busy writing a novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, which was not selling well in serial form. He was also interesting himself in the condition of the country. He visited a ragged school, which offered basic education to street children…
“As the grand tones resounded through the church, they seemed, to Tom, to find an echo in the depth of every ancient tomb, no less than in the deep mystery of his own heart. Great thoughts and hopes came crowding on his mind as the rich music rolled upon the air, and yet among them—something more grave and solemn in their purpose, but the same—were all the images of that day, down to its very lightest reflections of childhood.”
—Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewitt
Lots and lots of Dickens-related programming!
As the BBC launches its all-star adaptation of Great Expectations, we run down what’s on in the rest of the channel’s season dedicated to Charles Dickens.
“On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads, as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels.”
While writing Martin Chuzzlewit - his sixth novel - Dickens declared it ‘immeasurably the best of my stories.’ He was already famous as the author of The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.
Set partly in America, which Dickens had visited in 1842, the novel includes a searing satire on the United States. Martin Chuzzlewit is the story of two Chuzzlewits, Martin and Jonas, who have inherited the characteristic Chuzzlewit selfishness. It contrasts their diverse fates of moral redemption and worldly success for one, with increasingly desperate crime for the other. This powerful black comedy involves hypocrisy, greed and blackmail, as well as the most famous of Dickens’s grotesques, Mrs Gamp.